Furyk was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania. His father Mike was an assistant pro at the Edgmont Country Club and later also spent time as a pro at West Chester Golf and Country Club as well as Hidden Springs Golf Course in Horsham. His early years were spent in the Pittsburgh suburbs learning the game from his father, who was head pro at Uniontown Country Club. He graduated from Manheim Township High School in Lancaster County in 1988, where he played basketball in addition to being a state champion golfer. He played his junior golf at Meadia Heights Golf Club just south of Lancaster city. He played college golf at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he was an All-American twice and led the Wildcats to their first (and only) NCAA title in 1992.
In 2004, he only played in fourteen events after missing three months due to surgery to repair cartilage damage in his wrist; he missed six cuts and his highest finish was T6, which caused him to fall out of the top hundred on the money list. He returned to good form in 2005 and regained his top ten ranking, winning a PGA Tour event in that year and two in 2006. In the 2006 season, he finished a career-high second on the money list and won the Vardon Trophy for the first time. He also had a career-best thirteen top-10 finishes, including nine top-3s, four second-place finishes, and two victories.
Since 2012, Furyk has come close on several occasions to winning more titles, but to date has not done so. At the 2012 U.S. Open, Furyk led after 54 holes and was still the leader deep into the final day, before snap hooking his drive into the trees at the 16th which led to a bogey and was followed by another at the 18th. He finished in a tie for fourth, two strokes behind Webb Simpson. At the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Furyk led after the first three rounds and looked set to win the championship as he held a one-stroke lead going into the final hole, but a double-bogey cost him the title to Keegan Bradley. At the 2013 PGA Championship, Furyk led by one stroke going into the final day over Jason Dufner, but this time his lead was overturned on the front nine and he was unable to reduce the deficit as Dufner won by two strokes. Furyk's caddy since 1999 has been Mike "Fluff" Cowan, who was Tiger Woods' caddy for Woods' first two years as a professional.
Furyk's trademark looping golf swing begins with a setup that has the ball at the heel of the club instead of the center, or even out at the toe. This moves his 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) frame in so close that his hands are virtually touching his thighs. Most golfers would have a difficult time with a golf club from such a starting point. Compare Furyk's setup to the more textbook setup of Tiger Woods, who begins with his hands 8 inches or so away from his body, a position that promotes a take-away that will put the golf club over his right shoulder at the top, and keep his right elbow tucked against his body. For a human being, this is the classic launch position. Since the beginning of time it has been used to throw a stone, a spear, a baseball, or swing a club. The big muscles of the body—the back, shoulders and thighs—are in control, not the weaker ones in the hands and wrists. The athlete (or hunter in early times) is said to be "loaded". His entire body is poised in the optimum power position. Furyk, by contrast, takes the club away in the manner of a basketball player shooting a hook shot. His arms move back vertically, and at the top his right elbow "flies away" from his body. Tall players tend toward more upright swings. While this manner of beginning doesn't promote power, it is an early step to facilitate accurate ball-striking. The club's shaft is nearly vertical, like a putter. It moves straight back and straight up, keeping it on path longer, which tends to reinforce in the mind the route along which to bring it back into the ball. At the top of the backswing, Furyk is in the same position as Jack Nicklaus would be—club shaft parallel to the intended line of flight, elbow flying off to who-knows-where. Starting the downswing, Furyk then "corrects" for his unconventional takeaway by dropping his right elbow into the slot where it needs to be, a move that brings the golf club onto the proper swing path to achieve sound results. It's this downswing beginning that produces the idiosyncratic loop in his swing.
As Mike Furyk describes in a Golf Digest issue in 2001, Jim Furyk's hips "underturn" during the backswing and "overturn" coming down. On the downswing, he draws the club in a large arc behind his body (viewing from his right hand side), then pastes his elbow against his right hip at impact. Golf commentator Gary McCord has said it looks like Furyk is trying to swing inside a phone booth. Another commentator David Feherty memorably described Furyk's swing as "an octopus falling out of a tree". Others have noted it reminds them of "a one-armed golfer using an axe to kill a snake in a telephone booth."
1Cancelled due to 9/11
DNP = Did not play
QF, R16, R32, R64 = Round in which player lost in match play
"T" = Tied
NT = No tournament
Yellow background for top-10.
Note that the HSBC Champions did not become a WGC event until 2009.