What PGA Golfer Is Known as 'The Grinder'?

By M.L. Rose
Jim "The Grinder" Furyk plays a shot at the 2012 Transitions Championship.
Jim "The Grinder" Furyk plays a shot at the 2012 Transitions Championship.

Best known for an unusual swing that produces highly consistent results, Jim Furyk lacks the power and classic style of a player such as Tiger Woods. Nevertheless, Furyk's workmanlike approach made him one of the top players on the PGA Tour for about two decades. “I've always been known as a hard worker and someone that's grounded it out,” Furyk said in 2010 while receiving the PGA Tour's "Player of the Year" award.

The Grinder

Furyk's success despite his unorthodox style earned him the nickname "The Grinder." A 1999 "Sports Illustrated" article noted that Furyk “has established a reputation as a guy who will grind out strong finishes, if rarely victories, on tough courses in tough conditions.” In 2011, fellow PGA Tour pro Chris DiMarco elevated Furyk to the status of “the grinder of all grinders.”

Furyk's Swing

Furyk has what “Golf Digest” calls “one of the most unorthodox swings in professional golf.” He keeps has hands close to his body at address, forcing him to lift his hands quickly and move them away from his body on the backswing. He then draws his hands in as the club rises, giving his swing its characteristic loop. His father Mike, a former golf pro, notes that Jim doesn’t turn his hips much on the backswings, but rotates them decisively on the downswing. In his early years on the PGA Tour, Furyk’s hands came over his head at the top of his backswing, with the club aimed to the target’s right. As his swing evolved, his hands remained behind his head with the club directed at the target.

"I got a lot of recognition early in my career because of my goofy swing," Furyk said in 2003, "and it was a positive for me. I'm a guy who finds a comfort zone and sticks to his guns."

Early Years

Furyk's father Mike has been his only coach, but he didn’t permit his son to play until he turned 12. Furyk became a high school football, basketball and baseball star, but he kept his golfing ability quiet among his peers. He joined the PGA Tour in 1992 and won his first tournament in 1993.

Major Championship

Furyk gained his biggest victory at the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields Country Club in Illinois. He took a three-stroke lead into the final round after shooting a smooth 67-66-67 over the previous three days. His lead never dipped below three strokes during the final round. When Stephen Leaney sank a birdie on the 13th hole to draw back within three shots of the lead, Furyk answered by dropping a pitching wedge shot within 3 feet of the cup on the 14th hole and sinking his putt for birdie. He went on to win with an 8-under-par 272, tying the U.S. Open record.

Career Highlights

Through 2011 Furyk owned 16 PGA Tour victories and had earned $49,731,570 in prize money. He played for the United States in seven Ryder Cups from 1997 through 2010. In 2010, at age 40, he won the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup.

About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

Photo Credits

  • Sam Greenwood/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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