He wears the long face of a funeral director on the course, so Jim Furyk's dry, playful wit can catch you off-guard in person. Relaxing in the locker room after a practice session at the TPC at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., he's told that we've come armed with a list of reader questions, turning the interview over to his fans. "Whoa, you must be worried," Furyk, 37, says through a mouthful of mini pretzels. "Doesn't this make you obsolete?" Minutes later, the 2003 U.S. Open champ mock-protests when asked a follow-up. "No fair! That's not on the list. That's your question. Cheater!" Guilty, your honor. With the 13-time Tour winner keeping us honest, Jim Furyk will now take your questions.
Jim, my grandmother was your seventh-grade English teacher, Mrs. Zwally. What lessons from school do you still apply to your life?
James Parsons, 25, Harrisburg, Pa.
It's very simple. The harder you work, the more results you'll see. My dad was a hard worker, maybe to a fault. He put a lot of pressure on himself. I saw the way he was driven, the way he prepared, so I learned that if you work hard, you can achieve what you want. You may not see the results tomorrow, but be patient, because eventually you will.
I need a good chipping tip. Any ideas?
Dan Duncan, 33, Carlsbad, Calif.
This sounds almost too simple, but it works. A mistake most amateurs make is they take their grip, then manipulate the clubface for the shot they want to hit open face for a flop shot, closed for a bump and run, and so on. Then when they swing, their hands want to return to square, which changes the shot. My advice is to set your body and clubhead up to the ball for the shot you want and then take your grip. That keeps your hands where you want them, so you won't manipulate the club.
What's the first word you'd use to describe yourself?
Todd Landry, 41, Little Rock, Ark.
That's easy: Driven. I think that says it all.
Where in the world would you like to go most, and what would you do?
Lauren Freundlich, 42, Far Hills, N.J.
Sightseeing in Greece.
Jim, I live 20 minutes from Congressional. When you play the next AT&T National, would you and your wife like to stay in my guest room and let me be your chauffeur?
Steve Trauman, 61, Vienna, Va.
(Laughs) Twenty minutes sounds way too far. And with two kids, a nanny and a dog, we're like a traveling circus. We need lots and lots of room. But I appreciate the offer.
Can you pinpoint the moment on the way up when you realized, 'Hey, I'm good enough to play for a living'?
Art Mayweather, 37, Columbia, Mo.
In 1994, my first year on Tour, I was playing in Tucson. It was my second event. I was tied for the lead after three rounds, with a 31 on the back nine on Saturday, and ended up tied for seventh. That's when I knew I belonged out here. I've had some friends make the Tour and it hits 'em like a ton of bricks: "S- - - ! Is my game ready for the world's best?" I realized mine was ready, and that's a great feeling.
What's your favorite beer?
Rob Hemsen, 28, White Plains, N.Y.
Yuengling Lager, from Pottsville, Pennsylvania, in eastern Pa., where I grew up. They have a brewery here in Florida, so now it's all over Florida!
Who's your favorite Tour player to be paired with?
Steve Hummell, 50, Chicago, Ill.
On Sunday, Tiger, because he's usually leading the damn tournament.
How do you keep a bad shot from ruining your whole round?
Brandon Johnson, 38, Jacksonville, Fla.
Think of it as a challenge. If you hit it OB or hit a bad shot, say, "Can I make par or bogey?" I was playing in South Africa at the Million Dollar Challenge in the late '90s. I was dead last. On the first hole, I hit a bad pull into the bush and had to re-tee, so I'm hitting three off the tee. I said, "Let's do no worse than double," which I did. That gave me the jump-start I needed, and I ended up shooting a 64.