Jim Furyk won the Sony Open in 1996 at age 25 and now 26 years later, in the first round of the same event, he has turned the clock back considerably by playing on a sponsor’s exemption.
Although he started his first PGA Tour since March 2021 with three putts for bogey, the 51-year-old had a first 32 with four birdies and didn’t stop there. Furyk sank a 25ft birdie putt – identical to what he did on the No. 5 – on the par-4 16 to get within one of the leads, but he put the icing on the cake a few moments later.
At 187 yards, he completed the Waialae Golf Course’s par-3 17th – his sixth ace on the tour and first since WGC-Bridgestone 2011 – and finished his game with a one-stroke lead. It was the fifth Tour ace on No. 17 since 1983 and the first since Tony Finau’s in 2018.
“I thought I was between two clubs but [caddie Michael “Fluff” Cowan] assured me it was a 6 iron for me, it was the right club and I fumbled it a bit trying to get the ball in the air and hit it,” Furyk said after his round. .a bit high in the face.
“And so I loved the line she was on, but I wasn’t quite sure I caught enough to cover her. And I carried onto the green probably two or three yards and I landed in a perfect spot then released to the pin I guess that’s kinda the line I was looking for You never want to miss that green right You want to make sure I hits him hard to cover.”
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The 2003 US Open winner finished with an 8-under 62, his best round on the tour since his 58 at the 2016 Travelers Championship, the lowest score ever over 18 holes on the PGA Tour.
Furyk hasn’t held the lead after a round of the PGA Tour since the 2019 Players Championship, where he finished Day 4 with the club lead, but Rory McIlroy eventually passed Furyk by one shot to win.
In 2020, Furyk moved full-time to the PGA Tour champions and his career took on a new lease of life. He was second to Bernard Langer in the Schwab Cup standings last year, but has three wins, including the US Senior Open, 18 top 10s and 26 top 25s in 26 starts.
However, with the senior circuit set to start its season next week, also in Hawaii, the 17-time Tour winner believed he would get a head start playing a course where he has had success throughout. his career (five top-10 finishes plus his ’96 win and ’97 playoff loss).
And even if he was able to recreate that success in his first round of competition in 2022, don’t expect Furyk to try to regularly look back on his PGA Tour glory days.
“Waialae is a place where I still feel like I can move around and shoot pretty well under par and so that’s fun,” he said. “The places I’ve won, Valspar, Heritage, those are courses I can still compete on. Once in a while I’ll dive here but I’ll be playing mostly on the Champions Tour and have Hualalai next week, I’m Grateful Sony gave me an exemption and a chance to come here for two weeks in Hawaii.”
But no matter where and when he plays, the goal is always the same.
“Just because I’m approaching 52 doesn’t mean I came here to pack up and take a vacation,” he said. “I want to play well.”