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Furyk finds his groove in time to salvage erratic season

Jim Furyk of the U.S. react on the 18th green during the second round of the 2013 PGA Championship golf tournament at Oak Hill Country Club
Jim Furyk of the U.S. react on the 18th green during the second round of the 2013 PGA Championship golf tournament at Oak Hill Country Club

By Frank Pingue

ROCHESTER, New York (Reuters) - Perhaps missing the cut at the last two majors may prove to be the perfect tonic for American veteran Jim Furyk.

Furyk has surprisingly struggled for much of this season but since missing the cut at the U.S. Open in June and last month's British Open, the 43-year-old has managed to rediscover his game in time for this week's PGA Championship.

He shot a two-under-par 67 on Oak Hill Country Club's East Course to sit in a three-way tie for second at the midway point of the year's final major, two strokes behind compatriot Jason Dufner (63).

Frustrated by early exits at the last two majors, Furyk went to work on his putting and arrived at Oak Hill with a rare bout of momentum after competing well in the Canadian Open and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

"I have got some confidence built up from the last couple of weeks in the last two events, finishing in the top-10," Furyk, whose opening-round 65 was his lowest this year, told reporters.

"Although maybe I wasn't firing on all cylinders and maybe I wasn't striking the ball as good as I was yesterday, it gives me a lot of confidence."

Furyk was cruising along with birdies at the par-four first, 10th and 16th holes until surrendering a bogey at the 510-yard, par-four 17th, which is the longest par-four on the challenging East Course.

While Furyk managed to hit 11 of 14 fairways, he was kept in check because of a less-than-sharp iron game that limited him to hitting just 13 of 18 greens in regulation.

A 16-times winner on the PGA Tour, including the 2003 U.S. Open, Furyk knows not to over-think his approach going into the weekend pursuit of the Wanamaker Trophy that is sitting at the opening hole tee box for all players to see.

"I'm going to have the same game plan as I've had the first two days, really worrying about what I'm doing, my game," said Furyk. "I want to get a little better rhythm in the morning with my irons. They weren't as crisp today."

Furyk has not won on the PGA Tour since his stellar 2010 campaign when he triumphed three times, so getting himself into contention at a major has been a pleasant development.

But while his form at the previous two majors might prompt a desire to re-think his approach for the year's last shot at major glory, Furyk insists he has not strayed from his routine.

"Guys come in earlier because we don't see the course year-in and year-out like we do on Tour. So that also adds for a little bit of anxiety and getting anxious when the week starts," said Furyk.

"But I try to pretty much treat it the same, and it feels good to be in contention really in any event, but it's special when it's a major."

(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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