Firm grip gives Furyk a solid base

Unconventional approach works for one of game's best strikers


FORT WORTH, Texas -- There are three compelling reasons why Jim Furyk has not written a golf instruction book for amateurs - his grip, his swing and his putting approach.

All are unconventional. But they work for Furyk, who heads into the Bank of America Colonial as the top-ranked player in the field in season earnings ($2,962,649), scoring average (69.46) and world ranking (fifth).

"I wouldn't tell people to try to copy what I do," said Furyk, who overlaps two fingers on his grip, has a loop at the top of his swing and putts cross-handed.

"I get there in a little bit different way, but ... I still get into the same positions at impact [as other golfers]."

He gets there often enough that Tom Lehman and his caddie, Andy Martinez, have their own nickname for Furyk.

"We call him the `Human Highlight Film,' " Lehman said. "It seems like every time we play with Jim Furyk, it's an automatic 65 or 66."

Furyk, the son of a club pro, has putted cross-handed since the first day he held a putter. His swing, which traces the path of an ampersand (&) from setup through impact, has been described by CBS golf analyst David Feherty as resembling "an octopus falling out of a tree" and "a man trying to kill a snake in a phone booth."

Furyk, 36, chuckles at both descriptions. But his biggest idiosyncrasy might be his grip, which few fans notice. Furyk has been overlapping two fingers - rather than one, like most golfers - on every shot and every chip since 1995, his second season on the PGA Tour.

His father, Mike, suggested it as a drill to firm up his swing and cut down on errant shots to the right.

"I started laughing," Furyk said. "When I first went out there and tried it, it was like, `God, that's awkward.' "

After Jim had a bad opening round at a tour event, Mike Furyk suggested trying the two-finger overlap in competition. Initially, Jim scoffed again. But with no chance to survive the cut, he gave it a try.

"I went out and shot 68," Furyk said. "A couple of weeks later, I broke the course record [at the Buick Open]. Later on that year, I won in Las Vegas. I'm not saying that's the reason, but it definitely helped."

The two-finger overlap is now a foundation piece in Furyk's fundamentals. He can do it without discomfort, he said, because he has "long hands from the base of my palm to my fingers."

Heading into the Colonial, fellow competitors consider the 2003 U.S. Open champion one of the game's elite shot-makers.

Justin Leonard put Furyk at the top of his list.

Furyk's skills should serve him well at Colonial, a course where ball movement is essential and a place he described as one of the "top three courses" he's played in his career.

"You really have to think your way around," Furyk said. "You have to carve shots around the golf course, and I appreciate that. You have to hit all the clubs in your bag. I like that type of challenge."

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