One bad swing just won't go away for Jim Furyk.
A tee shot that sailed into the trees when he was just three holes from winning the U.S. Open on June 17 still bothers him. He wasn't ready for a course change that shortened the hole 100 yards overnight, and as a result he overcompensated so far left that the ball passed U.S. Rep. Barney Frank on the way to a bogey.
Furyk enters Thursday's AT&T National tournament hoping for a kinder course like the one on which he finished third in the event in 2007 and 2008. But the stink of the bad tee shot that led to a fourth-place Open finish still lingers. A couple dozen times a day someone says something to Furyk, who said "hundreds and hundreds" of well-meaning fans offered condolences -- even at the grocery store.
A dry cleaner asked why Furyk hit that shot. He could only respond, "You shouldn't break the buttons on my shirts, but it happens once in a while.
"I get reminded of it so often, and a lot of players in the field and friends will come up and say, 'Hey man, I was pulling for you' or 'Good playing anyway.' So it makes it that much harder to put it behind you. But from a playing perspective, I have."
Furyk has a good chance to win his first PGA event in a year in which he has four top-10 finishes in 13 tournaments for $1.9 million. Tournament host Tiger Woods is the early favorite, but Hunter Mahan and Furyk are expected to be contenders in a field devoid of many big names.
"Grinder" hasn't won a tournament since 2010, when he earned three victories en route to being named PGA Tour player of the year. He managed only four top-10 finishes last year, but this season he has shown steady improvement with a second at the Transitions Championship and fourth-place finishes at the Colonial and U.S. Open.
Furyk has played the AT&T National every year since its 2007 inception. He twice opened with 66s and finished 2008 with the same for third. Ironically, Furyk missed the 2011 U.S. Open cut at Congressional on a course he always has regarded as friendly. Furyk sees too much of the Open's tougher course remaining with a thick rough and firm greens.
The changes to the Blue Course have Furyk a little unsure how to play it.
"I've always liked this course," he said. "In my mind, I've played more tournaments here when it wasn't set up like this, so in my mind when I think of [hole] 1, I think of hitting a driver over the right edge of that bunker and getting it to chase up in front of the green. Now that's not the case. I kind of have to revert back to what I saw last year at the U.S. Open."
Congressional has helped him get rid of bad habits before, and Furyk knows he can adjust to the changes.
"I play a lot more by feel than other players," he said.
It may feel like trophy time come Sunday.