Planet Golf — 11 June 2013 by Kirby Arnold
Open: Jim Furyk is the pick here

I’ve dissected the U.S. Open field, considered the lack of length at Merion and the weather conditions they’ll all face, and concluded this about who will win the tournament:

Who am I to pick a winner?  I’ve played this game nearly 50 years and still haven’t figured how to chip and putt. I picked Brandt Snedeker to win last week, and he didn’t even make the cut.

That’s why I can predict Jim Furyk will win the Open and you should give it no more credence than the Spurs’ Game 1 victory in the NBA Finals.

But I really do like Furyk.

Go ahead and pick Tiger Woods and hope he doesn’t up-chuck another 79 like he did last week. Or maybe Dustin Johnson is your guy; lots of luck with that. Or a South African not named Ernie – actually, Louis Oosthuizen is a pretty strong pick if he gets off to a good start.

It takes experience and numb nerve endings to hold up in the Open, and Furyk has both.

He’s 43 now, but the challenge this week isn’t about keeping up with the young bombers off the tee.  It’s about positioning, staying out of the sticky Merion rough, hitting greens and coping with lightning-fast putts.

Furyk has faced it 18 times in the Open, won it in 2003 and finished among the top five six times.  He’s got the game to handle the conditions and temperament to withstand the pressure, especially down the stretch on Sunday.

I realize he folded late in the final round last year when he was tied for the lead before a snap-hook off the 16th tee doomed him. It opened the way for Webb Simpson’s victory, and Furyk finished fourth.

I see Furyk playing a consistent tournament this time, hanging with the leaders throughout and putting himself in contention by mid-afternoon Sunday. If he does, he won’t let this one get away.

And if he doesn’t, well, maybe the Spurs do have a chance in the Finals.

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Kirby Arnold

Kirby was 10 years old when he played his first round of golf with his grandmother on the sand greens of the Versailles Country Club in Missouri, and his love of the game has never wavered. Only one thing stood between Kirby and a single-digit handicap: his job. Kirby worked 42 years as a sports writer and editor at newspapers in Missouri and Washington. He started while a high school sophomore at the Rolla Daily News in Missouri and covered a variety of events, including his own high school basketball games (he made sure his name was spelled right). He was a sports writer and editor for 10 years at the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, covering Southwest Missouri State University football and basketball, Missouri University football and basketball, and numerous motorsports events including the Indianapolis 500 during the 1970s and 1980s. He moved to the Seattle area in 1984, becoming assistant sports editor at The Herald in Everett, Wa., then executive sports editor from 1987-1998, a time when The Herald's sports coverage was recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as being among the best in the nation for newspapers its size. Kirby returned to the press box in 1999, taking over The Herald's coverage of the Seattle Mariners. He covered the Mariners/baseball beat the next 13 seasons and in 2007 wrote his first book, Tales from the Seattle Mariners Dugout. While Kirby pursued a rewarding newspaper career, one of his lifelong goals remained unfulfilled: breaking 80 on a consistent basis. Kirby left The Herald at the end of 2011, moved to Phoenix and immediately began spending more time at the golf course. His only excuse now is a 12 on the stimpmeter.

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