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Jim Furyk set for Wachovia title defence

World number two Jim Furyk returns to a happy hunting ground in upbeat mood for his title defense at this week's Wachovia Championship.

Two years ago, the American lost out to Vijay Singh in a three-way playoff at the Quail Hollow Club. Twelve months later, he went one better by edging out South African Trevor Immelman to clinch the winner's check for $1.134 million.

"The last two years have been a lot of fun, grueling but a lot of fun," Furyk told reporters on Tuesday.

"Two playoffs: I lost in '05 but was able to come back last year and get a win. So I've got some good memories and I'm always excited to be here."

Furyk, who has skipped the last two PGA Tour events after missing the cut at the Heritage Classic, wants to sharpen his game in the build-up to next month's U.S. Open.

"I'm playing okay," the 36-year-old said. "I'm not jumping up and down or excited about the way I'm playing but I don't feel like I'm playing poorly, either.

"I've got a few things that I've been working on and trying to get comfortable but, overall, I feel like my game is in decent shape."

The 2003 U.S. Open champion has produced three top-10s in nine PGA Tour starts this season, but none since a tie for third at the Nissan Open in mid-February

"I want to improve my game for the Players (Championship) next week and then I've got a good stretch," said Furyk, whose most recent PGA Tour victory came at the Canadian Open in September last year.

"I like the Colonial and Memorial a lot and then obviously getting ready for the U.S. Open. I'm hoping to get my game in shape for those events."

Furyk, who claimed his only major title in the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields, has been tinkering with his irons.

"After playing Augusta, I felt like my irons were a touch flat," he said, referring to his tie for 13th in last month's Masters at Augusta National.

"I spent a lot of last week trying to fit those properly and get comfortable with how they felt going through the ground."

Known for his accurate hitting and one of the most unorthodox swings in the professional game, Furyk says he has never listened to unsolicited golfing advice.

"As a youngster, I was taught not to listen to anyone else or to watch anyone else swing, so that made it easy," added the Florida-based professional, whose only coach has been his father Mike.

"If anyone did say anything to me, I kind of said thanks and went on and kept doing what I was doing. Once I started having success out here, everyone has pretty much left well enough alone."

A veteran of five Ryder Cups and a 12-times winner on the PGA Tour, Furyk has steadily worked his way up to second place in the world rankings, behind Tiger Woods.

"I've never been a guy that's had rabbit ears, either," he said. "I've never seen a teacher teaching someone and gone over there and seen what they're working on.

"I don't care and let everyone else go about their business while I work on my swing.

The Wachovia Championship starts on Thursday.


May 2, 2007

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