What if Jim Furyk is 51 years old?
So what if he won the Sony Open in Hawaii in 1996 and his last PGA Tour victory was in 2015?
So what if he plays in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai next week, the PGA Tour Champions’ 2022 season opener?
Count him out of the Sony Open this week at your peril.
After 18 holes of the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, the winner of 17 PGA Tour victories, including the 2003 U.S. Open, posted an 8-under 62 to trail reigning champion Kevin Na by one stroke.
Furyk, who is four years older than Jerry Kelly, capped his round with an ace on the par-3 17th, which came after three consecutive birdies.
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Furyk, who has three Champions titles, including the 2021 U.S. Senior Open, said, “I’ve always liked being here.” “Sony is my favorite. It’s a location where I’ve had a lot of success. In 1997, I believe I lost in a playoff game. There were a lot of top tens here. The course is fantastic.
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“I’m not striking the ball far enough to compete on many of the golf courses out here on a regular basis.” But Waialae is a site where I still feel like I can move about and shoot under par, so it’s enjoyable.”
Furyk’s ace was his sixth on the PGA Tour, and he hit it with a 6-iron.
He said, “I caught it just a little high in the face.” “As a result, I really liked the line it was on, but I wasn’t sure I caught enough of it to cover it.” And it carried another two or three yards on the green before landing in a precise location and being launched towards the pin. That’s probably the line I was hoping for. You don’t want to miss out on that green, do you? To cover, I want to make sure I strike it solid.”
Na, who scored 61 on his way to his fifth PGA Tour win last year, hit every fairway in regulation and made no bogeys. When he shot eagle on the ninth hole to get to 6 under, he claimed he started thinking about shooting a 59. He got to 7 under par with a birdie on the 10th, but he wasted several good scoring opportunities coming in and shot his seventh 61 on Tour.
Na won the 2011 Justin Timberlake Shriner’s Hospital for Children Open after 369 starts on the PGA Tour, but he has won one in each of the last four seasons.
“I did a fantastic job.” Everything went great today, and my iron play was fantastic. Na, who began his round just after Furyk finished his, stated, “My distance control has been terrific.” “For a brand new ball, I’m doing fairly well with distance control.” And, believe it or not, I had a chance at a 59. I gave it everything I had. I’m a little bummed that my putts didn’t fall, especially some of the fantastic ones I hit. It’s still a nice round, though.
“It was nice to see Jim shoot 61, what an incredible round and how excellent he is, is it still at 52?” 51? That’s fantastic. When I’m 51, I’d like to be that good. It only demonstrates that it exists. I felt like a good round could be somewhere around there.”
Russell Henley, the 2013 Sony Open champion, joined Furyk at 62.
Kevin Chappell, Michael Thompson, Seamus Power, and Patton Kizzire were all ranked 63rd. Six players remained in the field of 64, including Ryan Palmer and Matt Kuchar.
Chappell underwent microdiscectomy and laminectomy surgery on his back in 2018, after suffering from back pain for years. He fired a 59 in the 2019 Military Tribute at the Greenbrier in his first outing after the procedure. But he’s struggled since his return, with no top-10 finishes in 31 starts.
“I definitely had some leftover problems going from my back last year,” Chappell said. “At the end of the year, I realized I wasn’t well physically, I wasn’t good emotionally, and I needed to take some time (off).” “The Tour has been fantastic in that regard, supporting me.” I really focused on the mental aspect, and believe it or not, the better my mental state became, the better my back became.
“It’s been a lot of effort, but it’s been fantastic.” Every tee shot still makes me nervous, but it’s such a beautiful location to be. Excuse my vulgarity, but I’ve been working my tail off. I wasn’t expecting it, but it doesn’t surprise me. At home, I’ve been witnessing some great things and am quite happy of the job I’ve done.”
Furyk posted his lowest total score since the 2019 World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, when he shot 65. Furyk is the first player in PGA Tour history to shoot two sub-60 rounds and the only player to sign for a 58. Since winning the RBC Heritage in 2015, he hasn’t won on the PGA Tour.
Furyk made 150 feet of putts, including birdie putts of 11, 16, 25, 31, and 33 feet, as well as two two-footers, after opening with a 3-putt from 85 feet.
He said, “Everything was kind of at the hole and on target.”
This week, Furyk stated he played a practice round with Brent Grant, who addressed him as “sir.”
“He asked me later what I liked best about the Champions Tour, and I answered, ‘No one calls me sir,'” Furyk said. “He claimed if he didn’t, his father would be furious.”
When it comes to competing on the PGA Tour, Furyk is well aware that his age will come up. So, of course, he was asked about his good friend Phil Mickelson, who, at the age of 50, became the oldest player to win a major at last year’s PGA Championship, and Bernhard Langer, who won a Champions Tour tournament at the age of 64 last year.
Furyk stated, “They’re both pretty dang fantastic.” “I’m not going to try to figure out which one is superior. I think what made Phil’s PGA victory so remarkable was the fact that it took place on that particular golf course. That is not a golf course for amateurs. That’s a golf course with a bomb-it feel about it.
“I’ll make a joke about how I’m sick of gushing over Bernhard. It’s incredible what he’s accomplished at the age of 64, to stay that competitive, that fit, and to truly have the desire, the will, and the grind to be that competitive.”
Furyk falls into the same category.
“I’ve been practicing at home and hitting balls and working on my game, so some of the things I expected to be a little better today could have been better,” he said. “But then things, like decision-making, scoring, and the short game, all of that was super today, and the putting was amazing,” he added. “So, you know, I’m trying to get ready for this year, and this week, what should I look at?” I want to be able to compete. I want to compete and position myself in the hunt, as well as get a sense of where my game is.”