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Preview: Valspar Championship


Furyk trying to move forward

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) Jim Furyk lost in a playoff a year ago at the Tampa Bay Championship and had no reason to feel as though he threw one away. Luke Donald simply beat him and two others with a 7-iron out of the rough to 6 feet for birdie on the first extra hole.

Furyk just had no idea it would be the start of the worst kind of trend.

He had three more chances to win that year, and all three times he came up empty. There was that snap hook with a fairway metal off the 16th tee that dropped him out of a tie for the lead at the U.S. Open, and he never caught up. He had a one-shot lead and was in the middle of the 18th fairway at Firestone when he chopped his way to a double bogey and lost by one. He had a share of the 54-hole lead at Sea Island and finished two shots behind.

And that doesn't include the Ryder Cup, where he had a 1-up lead with two holes to play and lost to Sergio Garcia.

Furyk figured the best way to get over it was to forget about it.

This was different from the last time he had a sour taste in his mouth at the end of the year. This was more mental than physical.

Coming off his biggest year - three wins and the FedEx Cup - in 2010, Furyk had only three top 10s against full fields the following year and was No. 53 on the money list, his lowest position since he was a rookie.

``I really had a chip on my shoulder to get back after it and to improve and get back to playing the type of golf that I had in years past,'' Furyk said Wednesday. ``So I worked really hard more mechanically on my game. I worked out a lot trying to get stronger. But I was very driven.''

And after last year?

``I really tried to get away for a while,'' he said. ``I was really happy with a lot of things I did well in 2012, but it was going to be a frustrating, disappointing year to look back on with the finishes, and not being able to finish things off. In a lot of ways, it was better than 2010 in all the unimportant ways - the statistics. But all the important ways - finishing off tournaments and winning - it was a frustrating year.''

Such is golf, and for Furyk, it was a harsh reminder.

He only had three chances to win in 2010 and had three trophies. He had four chances in 2012 and had nothing to show for it but frustration. There was no need to fix anything with his swing. This was a matter of clearing his head.

``I tried to figure out where I went wrong and what I could have done better and how I could have fixed it, and then you really can't dwell on it,'' Furyk said. ``At that point, you beat yourself up over and over again. I tried to blow off steam, but I really tried to get away and really get my mind fresh.''

He has played only four times this year going into the Tampa Bay Championship, which starts Thursday on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook. He has played reasonably well, with a tie for 13th at Riviera and losing in 22 holes in the second round of the Match Play Championship to Bubba Watson.

And he's waiting for the next chance to win - with hopes of getting a better result.

Furyk is playing Innisbrook for the fifth straight year, and he won the tournament in 2010.

The Tampa Bay Championship gets overlooked as the third leg of the Florida Swing. So much attention is on the Honda Classic, which was boosted by its spot on the schedule between two World Golf Championships, and is helped by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy playing because they live in south Florida. The WGC event was last week at Doral. The Arnold Palmer Invitational is next week at Bay Hill.

Innisbrook is a gem, however, considered by many players to be the best tournament course in Florida. It features surprising changes in elevation, especially for Florida. Water only comes into play on seven holes. The fairways have subtle movement and are lined by trees, and the course typically is firm and fast.

It has produced a varied mix of winners - Donald and his exquisite short game a year ago and the power of Gary Woodland the year before. Vijay Singh won Tampa during his nine-win season in 2004. Retief Goosen with his pure putting stroke was rewarded in 2009.

``It's a golf course you have to really think your way around, shape some shots off the tee,'' Donald said. ``It really does test all parts of your game from tee shots to really getting the iron shots in the right positions on the greens, which are some of the most sloped and fast greens we play all year. And they are very quick right now. It's a thinking man's course.''

Four of the top 10 players in the world - Donald, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar - are at the Tampa Bay Championship, with 21 of the top 50. The list includes Geoff Ogilvy, who at No. 49 is still searching for that one good week that will lock up a spot in the Masters.

And there are plenty of newcomers this week, with four players getting into the tournament because of finishing in the top 10 at the Puerto Rico Open last week. That includes 19-year-old Jordan Spieth and Peter Uihlein, who last played here in 2011 as the U.S. Amateur champion.

Furyk is playing for the fourth time in five weeks, though he plans to shut it down until a week before the Masters. Donald is making his last PGA Tour start before the Masters, though he will be going to the Malaysian Open next week.

Furyk would love to win before going to Augusta National, though it has nothing to do with redemption from this tournament last year, or any event last year.

``I'd like to win soon, but whether that's this week or this year, we'll see,'' he said. ``That's why you go play and that's the joy of preparing and getting ready. What's behind me is behind me. I have no issues with that.''

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.

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TB Champ field
Robert AllenbyStephen AmesStuart Appleby
Aaron BaddeleySang-Moon BaeRicky Barnes
Charlie BeljanJonas BlixtJason Bohn
Justin BolliSteven BowditchMichael Bradley
David BradshawScott BrownAngel Cabrera
Chad CampbellPatrick CantlayRoberto Castro
Greg ChalmersKevin ChappellK.J. Choi
Stewart CinkWill ClaxtonGeorge Coetzee
Erik ComptonBen CraneJohn Daly
Brian DavisJason DayGraham DeLaet
Luke DonaldJames DriscollJason Dufner
Ken DukeHarris EnglishBob Estes
Matt EveryRoss FisherMartin Flores
Brad FritschJim FurykTommy Gainey
Sergio GarciaScott GardinerRobert Garrigus
Brian GayTom GillisLucas Glover
Fabian GomezRetief GoosenLuke Guthrie
James HahnBrian HarmanDavid Hearn
J.J. HenryJim HermanTim Herron
Justin HicksCharley HoffmanBilly Horschel
John HuhTrevor ImmelmanRyo Ishikawa
Zach JohnsonMatt JonesMartin Kaymer
Jerry KellyTroy KellyJeff Klauk
Colt KnostBen KohlesJason Kokrak
Matt KucharMartin LairdScott Langley
D.H. LeeRichard H. LeeMarc Leishman
Justin LeonardDavid LingmerthLuke List
John MallingerDavid MathisTroy Matteson
William McGirtGeorge McNeillEric Meierdierks
Bryce MolderRyan MooreSeung-yul Noh
Henrik NorlanderSean O'HairGeoff Ogilvy
Louis OosthuizenJeff OvertonGreg Owen
Ryan PalmerJin ParkJesper Parnevik
Cameron PercyPat PerezRod Perry
Tim PetrovicCarl PetterssonScott Piercy
D.A. PointsAndy PopeTed Potter, Jr.
Alistair PresnellDicky PrideChez Reavie
Patrick ReedTag RidingsJohn Rollins
Andres RomeroRory SabbatiniAdam Scott
John SendenWes Short, Jr.Webb Simpson
Vijay SinghDavid SkinnsJoey Snyder III
Jordan SpiethKevin StadlerScott Stallings
Brendan SteeleShawn StefaniRobert Streb
Kevin StreelmanChris StroudBrian Stuard
Daniel SummerhaysKevin SutherlandJosh Teater
Michael ThompsonNicholas ThompsonPeter Tomasulo
David TomsD.J. TrahanCameron Tringale
Peter UihleinCamilo VillegasJimmy Walker
Nick WatneyBoo WeekleyMike Weir
Charlie WiLee WilliamsMark Wilson
Casey WittenbergGary WoodlandY.E. Yang
Brendon de Jonge 
Strength of field
World RankPlayersNo. in Field
TOP 10Adam Scott (2),Matt Kuchar (8),Jason Dufner (10)3
TOP 25Zach Johnson (11),Jim Furyk (13),Luke Donald (14),Jason Day (16),Sergio Garcia (17),Jordan Spieth (21),Webb Simpson (24)7
TOP 50Nick Watney (27),Louis Oosthuizen (29),Graham DeLaet (32),Jonas Blixt (34),Billy Horschel (35),Kevin Streelman (36),Martin Kaymer (37),Scott Piercy (40),Ryan Moore (45),Boo Weekley (48),D.A. Points (50)11
TOP 100Angel Cabrera (51),Michael Thompson (57),Robert Garrigus (58),Martin Laird (60),Marc Leishman (61),Brendon de Jonge (63),Jimmy Walker (64),Roberto Castro (65),Patrick Reed (68),Peter Uihlein (69),Carl Pettersson (70),Harris English (73),Gary Woodland (80),John Huh (83),Scott Stallings (84),George Coetzee (85),Ken Duke (86),David Lingmerth (88),Luke Guthrie (89),David Toms (91),Ryan Palmer (93),Kevin Chappell (95),Geoff Ogilvy (97),Matt Jones (99)24
Course: Innisbrook Resort - Copperhead, Par 71 | Yardage: 7151