MEDINAH, ILL. (AP) - The ultimate team event in golf sometimes is decided by a single player.
Jim Furyk holds a unique spot in Ryder Cup history as the only player to win and lose the decisive match. He knows euphoria as well as dejection. So when he talks about the possibility of being in that position again Sunday at Medinah, he speaks in terms of accepting the role, not relishing it.
And while everyone wants to be the star, it’s a good bet every player at Medinah knows what he means.
“I think everyone playing in this tournament would love to be in that position,” Furyk said Tuesday. “You just have to be able to accept the fact that sometimes it turns out good, and sometimes it doesn’t.”
It’s not about having the skill to hit the clutch shot. It’s having the strength to cope with failure.
Furyk can handle the failure when he only has to answer to himself.
Three months ago, he was tied for the lead at the U.S. Open when he hit a snap hook off the tee on the par-5 16th at Olympic Club that led to bogey. He never made up that shot and wasted a wonderful chance at winning his second major. Equally devastating was going to the 18th hole at Firestone, having led from the opening round, and making a double bogey to lose by one shot. He had to console his 8-year-old son who was in tears.
It’s a different monster when you answer to 11 teammates.
Who wants the ball?
You can be Adam Vinatieri or Scott Norwood. Bobby Thomson or Ralph Branca.
“You wouldn’t wish to be in that position, I don’t suppose,” Paul Lawrie said. “But if you are, you would like to think that you could do what needed to be done. But you don’t know until you get there. I would imagine it’s pretty tough.”
Paul Azinger probably would have passed on such an opportunity. But he didn’t have a choice.
He had played in enough Ryder Cups to know that when it’s close going to Sunday, the clincher is likely to be anywhere from the seventh and 11th spot in the lineup of 12 singles matches. Azinger was a captain’s pick for the 2001 team, only to have the Ryder Cup postponed a year by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. By then, he was out of form. He played poorly in the opening session with Tiger Woods and didn’t play again until he had no choice. Everyone plays singles.
Azinger was inserted into the eighth match against Niclas Fasth.