Most pros love playing in the Memorial Tournament because it's
Jack Nicklaus's event, the course (Muirfield Village) is
terrific, and the clubhouse has the best food on Tour. But the
main reason I'll always show up in Dublin, Ohio, this time of
year is a sentimental one: It's where I met my girlfriend,
We met two years ago this week. Tabitha was working in the
marketing department at Muirfield Realty. Her boss was Ray
Hustek, who in the Columbus area is also known as Mr. Golf, the
moniker he uses on his weekly radio show on WTVN. Ray always
takes time off from work to cover the Memorial, where he likes
to interview players as they come off the 18th green.
At the end of a practice round, I was there signing autographs
for some kids when I saw Tabitha out of the corner of my eye.
She was standing back in the crowd, by Ray. I smiled and,
feeling funny, said, "Hi." I went back to signing but kept
looking up. I noticed that Tabitha was looking at me, too.
Finally, she said, "Hi."
When I was ready to go to the locker room, I was wondering if I
should talk to this girl, who was very pretty and had a great
smile. Ray, who isn't the shyest person, came up and introduced
us. He asked if I wanted to join Tabitha, him and his fiancee
for dinner. That caught me off guard.
"Sure," I said.
I went out with them that night, and we hit it off great.
Tabitha and I went out the next four nights too. We have a lot
of the same values and interests, and Tabitha liked it that I
got along so well with kids. She has a degree in education from
Ohio State and always wanted to teach first grade.
We also have great families. I'm really tight with my parents,
and so is Tabitha with hers. What's wonderful is how well our
families get along. At this year's Masters our parents came down
and we rented a house together. I love being with her parents,
and that's nice because, well, that's not always the case.
When Tabitha and I started dating, I didn't play well for more
than a month. I missed a few cuts. Normally, when I'm playing
poorly, I take it out on the people close to me because I feel
they'll understand. My parents had been my main sounding board,
but I couldn't do that with Tabitha. It was hard for me to
explain what was wrong because she didn't know much about golf.
More important, I was nervous about letting off steam and having
her think, This guy's a jerk. Fortunately, my game came around,
and she understood why I'd been so frustrated.
We look back at that time and laugh.
On June 1 Furyk will be a guest on SI GolfPlus radio, which airs
on Sundays from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. in most major markets.
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK Furyk met Tabitha near the 18th green. [Tabitha Skartved and Jim Furyk]