The outcome of yesterday's most competitive match of the Presidents Cup rested on a man in such pain he barely made it around the course.
With a chance to win the match with his final putt on No. 18, Jim Furyk missed a 15-footer. The match ended all square with Furyk and Fred Funk tying the International team's Vijay Singh and Mark Hensby to each earn a half-point for their respective teams. The International team leads after the first day of the four-day competition, 31/2 to 21/2.
"I'm sore," Furyk said. "I don't want to make a big deal out of it. I'm okay."
While he was warming up on the driving range, Furyk experienced muscle spasms that reached from his ribs into his back. The spasms were a result of an injury that occurred at last week's 84 Lumber Classic. His discomfort became so great that several times throughout the round he needed treatment from PGA Tour chiropractor Tom LaFountain to continue playing.
"I made it the first three or four holes before calling for a physiotherapy guy to come out," Furyk said. "Honestly, if they didn't come out, I wouldn't have made it the whole round."
Funk was impressed with his partner's fortitude.
"He was dreading every golf swing he had to take," Funk said.
On the climactic hole, Funk hit a terrific second shot out of the left rough that landed on the first cut above the pin. Hensby's second shot was on the green, but 50 feet to the right of the hole. Singh left his putt three feet short, giving Furyk the opportunity for the win. His putt hit the front of the cup, rolled around the left edge then scooted just past.
"We helped each other and there's a lot of emotions, so a half-point kind of feels like a disappointment," Furyk said.
Furyk received treatment last night with the intention of playing today. American captain Jack Nicklaus said if Furyk can't play today, then Tiger Woods, who is to be his partner, would play a singles match against either Stuart Appleby or Hensby. International captain Gary Player would choose which one would face Woods. If Furyk starts his match then has to drop out, Woods would continue the match playing his one ball against the two of Appleby and Hensby.
"I want to play [the injury] down and just be part of this team and go out and contribute as much as I can," Furyk said.
A Terrapin Forever
Fred Funk hasn't coached the University of Maryland golf team since 1988, yet the Terrapin fans in the galleries continue to claim him as one of their own. Shouts of "Go Terps!" and "Fear the Turtle!" followed Funk throughout his round.
"When you're a Terrapin and you're back home, you're going to hear it a lot," he said. "I even hear that everywhere around the world, that one slogan 'Fear the Turtle.' You hear it everywhere."
Down Under Blunder
During his introductions of the International team, Player committed a bit of a faux pas when he noted how many people in Australia came out to greet Michael Campbell after he won the U.S. Open this year. Campbell is from New Zealand. When the crowd tittered at his misstatement, Player said: "Always remember when you get to 70 [years of age], you're allowed a mulligan."
Nicklaus spent some time during his introductory speech defending the decision to end the last Presidents Cup on a tie, at one point becoming emotional. "I still get choked up about it," he said.