Sherwood victory catalyst for Furyk
A lot can change during a golfing season and Jim Furyk can look back to last year's Chevron World Challenge for sparking the most successful campaign of his career.
The straight-hitting American ended a 29-month title drought by triumphing at Sherwood Country Club last December and he returns to defend his title this week as a leading contender for the 2010 US PGA Tour Player of the Year award.
"This was definitely the catalyst and where I got it jump-started," Furyk said after playing in the pre-tournament pro-am competition.
"I wasn't expecting much last year. I had taken a lot of time off before coming here and I was trying to build some confidence, get a little better every day and get some feel.
"Lo and behold, I played a good round on Saturday and got myself in contention, played well on Sunday and won the tournament."
Furyk, who had played 54 worldwide events since his previous triumph in 2007, clinched the 2009 Chevron World Challenge by one shot over Britain's Graeme McDowell.
Buoyed by that success, he went on to win three titles on the 2010 US PGA Tour, the first time he has achieved that feat since turning professional in 1992.
He ended the tour season with victory at the Tour Championship in September when he also landed FedExCup honours and the $10 million bonus.
"It was a boost of confidence to go out and hit some good shots under pressure and close the tournament out, which I hadn't done in a while," Furyk said of his Sherwood success last year. "It gave me some good feelings for this season."
The world number six has not played competitive golf since the Ryder Cup in October and he is banking on another unexpected return to form at Sherwood this week.
"I'm not expecting a lot, although I actually played pretty well today," the 40-year-old said. "It's kind of hit-or-miss right now. I'm a little rusty with my game.
"But if I can do the same thing, just feel a little bit better every day, feel a little bit more comfortable and gain some confidence going into next season."
Furyk is in the running for the 2010 US PGA Tour Player of the Year award along with fellow Americans Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, plus South African Ernie Els.
Asked to assess his own claim for the honour which is determined by tour member voting, Furyk replied: "I had more wins than anyone else, which I value, and the FedExCup Trophy, so I'm hoping it works out.
"It would be a nice feather in my cap for a good season but I don't want to sit here and tell you that I feel like I should win or anything like that.
"But I feel like my season definitely stacks up very well comparatively to everyone else."
Furyk will launch his Chevron World Challenge title defence with Colombian Camilo Villegas in Thursday's opening round.