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The Unraveling of Jim Furyk: Lessons learned from a season marked by failure

Jim Furyk, WGC-Bridgestone 2012
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
In full command of the WGC-Bridgestone, Furyk double bogeys the 72nd hole from the middle of the fairway to lose by one.

Failure is a fascinating subject for many reasons, but people veer away from it because they're afraid of it.
Larry Bird said he woke up in the middle of the night in the playoffs, in a deep sweat, because he felt like he couldn't make a shot, had dreams about not being able to make one and going like 0 for 30. He said that what made him great was a fear of failure.

It's true what they say: You learn more from your failures than you do from your successes.
In that case Tiger would be pretty damn stupid, wouldn't he?

(Related Photos: Tiger's Life in Pictures)

Is there any tangible takeaway from 2012, a specific part of your game that needs improvement?
If I was at fault anywhere it was from a mental standpoint. I made a swing on 16 at the U.S. Open without being committed to exactly where I wanted to hit the ball. I got a little quick and a little fast on my pre-shot routine on my third shot at the Bridgestone, and kind of went underneath it and hit it high on the face. I made those two or three swings, to go back to Davis's quote, due to mental errors.

Putting under pressure is a mental thing, too, right?
It was mechanical for me. I had some mechanical flaws I had to work on [in 2011] and I worked really hard on them and got my confidence back.

What about the putts on 17 and 18 against Sergio?
I hit good putts -- 17 was a 15-footer that everyone misread, from what I've been told, and 18, I couldn't have hit that putt on a better line or a better speed, it just didn't go in.

(Related Photos: 10 Best Shots of 2012)

At 42, you made a boatload of cash in 2012, and you were in contention a fair bit. That has to be emboldening.
Yeah, but I never judge my success by money. I judge it by how much my game's improved. You can look at stats all you want, but when I step on the tee box now I have confidence I'm going to hit the ball in the fairway. I don't always, but I believe I am going to. I was a little too wild [in 2011] and the confidence wasn't there. When I step over a five-footer to win the golf tournament now, in my mind I believe I'm going to knock that putt in, and in 2011 I was confused.

I imagine you've received some supportive e-mails or phone calls. What's the reaction been like since Medinah?
Well, whether it's been peers, fans, actually the media themselves -- I faced some pretty difficult times professionally, and what I was commended for is that I was accessible to talk afterward. I wanted a minute or two to kind of somehow try to order those thoughts a bit, and get everything in line, but I was commended and got a lot of well-wishes for the way I handled myself, the way I looked everyone in the eye and talked about it and didn't blame anyone else and took credit.

The way Greg Norman handled his defeat at the 1996 Masters -- was that a model for you, a template, sort of, for how to be graceful in defeat?
No. I think when something happens that's upsetting for you, the last thing you think of is someone else. You feel like you're on an island, and the people that really care about you, and the people who are in your corner -- it's a small number. [Laughs] So I'm looking at my family, I'm looking at dear friends, but as I handled it and talked about it, I saw that when the questions were asked, a lot of people had soft looks in their eyes, almost like a I-feel-bad-I-have-to-ask-this-question look. Someone asked the other day, "How do you keep coming back? How do you pick yourself up?" It's just what we do! We get our asses beat week in and week out, some weeks worse than others. It's humbling.

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