Originally created 06/18/04

Furyk defending despite surgery

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. - Jim Furyk took a chance that he could come back from wrist surgery sooner than later to defend his U.S. Open title.

Furyk not only played pain-free in the first round of the Open Thursday at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, but his round of 2-over-par 72 puts him on the fringes of contention, six shots off the lead.

"I'm fine," he said. "Health-wise, there's no problem.

"Obviously, I hit it in the rough my share, so the wrist felt good. Now, I just have to focus on my game a little bit."

Furyk had surgery on his left wrist March 22, and was given a time frame of three-to-six months before he could return to the PGA Tour. When he began practicing at Shinnecock on Monday, it was two months and three weeks from the date of his surgery.

HIT OR MISS: Tiger Woods, trying to win a major for the first time since the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage State Park, was 1-under par through five holes, but played his last 13 in 3-over to finish with 72. Woods hasn't shot in the 60s in the first round of a major since winning at Bethpage.

He hit only five fairways, his main problem this season, and only two on the back nine. Woods also missed three of his final five greens.

"There's an awful long way to go," said the world's No. 1-ranked player. "We haven't seen this wind up yet. I was extremely patient. I know how to play U.S. Opens."

BAD TIMING: David Roesch, a local and sectional Open qualifier and mini-tour veteran from Wisconsin, was one of the early surprises when he shot 68 in the morning rounds. However, Roesch came to the interview area fuming because a USGA official put his group on the clock on the fourth hole and told him that he would get a stroke penalty if he got one more bad time.

Roesch said he became more angry when he got to the fifth tee and had to wait five minutes to hit.

He wanted to complain to the rules official, but couldn't find him.

"I would have been fine, but we got to the tee and we stand there for five minutes and that guy (the rules official) runs and hides," Roesch said. "That's nonsense. I don't know how that works, but if it was Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson and that would have happened ... no way."

Roesch calmed down and talked about the close call he had in even reaching the U.S. Open: He missed qualifying for the Nationwide Tour La Salle Bank Open two weeks ago, and then drove to St. Louis for the U.S. Open sectional and played 36 holes on five hours of sleep.


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