How Jim Furyk realized the PGA Tour Champions was ‘where I wanted to be’

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RICHMOND, Va. — Last year Jim Furyk was anxious to give the PGA Tour Champions a shot.

He picked his first two starts strategically. First up in August 2020 was the Ally Challenge in Michigan because he loved the golf course, Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club, former host of the PGA Tour’s Buick Open (which Furyk won in 2003). Next up was the Pure Insurance Championship, an easy choice because as he said, “everyone likes going to Pebble Beach.”

Furyk took home the hardware from both events, joining Arnold Palmer and Bruce Fleisher as the only golfers to win their first two starts on the senior circuit. He then finished up his PGA Tour season and decided he wanted to come out and join his fellow 50-plus players on the Champions tour, and he hasn’t looked back since.

“It was just very apparent playing in (Champions tour) events, I enjoyed it. I didn’t have a lot of success here last year. I played solid, I finished 13th, but still really enjoyed the tournament, enjoyed the golf course and kind of had the feeling this was kind of my – where I wanted to be,” said Furyk ahead of this week’s Dominion Energy Charity Classic, the first of three events in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs.

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Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson

“It’s fun. It takes a little bit less out of you,” Furyk continued. “A three-round golf tournament, we’re in carts for the pro-am and for the practice rounds – that’s a great invention, by the way – then I walk during the three days, but instead of walking five or six rounds a week, I’m walking three. It’s not as mentally and physically taxing, yet it’s still extremely competitive.”

Plus he’s gotten the chance to get reacquainted with his 8-iron, 9-iron, and wedges again.

“I missed those guys for about four or five years on the PGA Tour,” joked Furyk.

Earlier this month the 51-year-old hosted the Constellation Furyk and Friends, won by none other than 2021 PGA champion Phil Mickelson, who’s set to defend his 2020 Dominion title this week after a war of words online regarding the USGA and R&A’s new local rule for club length. A week after Furyk and Friends at the SAS Championship, the event’s namesake was without longtime caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan due to an injury. Instead, his son Hunter was on the bag, and the pair finished tied for third.

“Better. I’m actually surprised at how well he’s gotten around this week,” Furyk said of Fluff’s status. “He really was hobbled last week and wasn’t able to bear a lot of weight. He’s still got a little bit of a limp to his gait, but we went on — he was on the cart today for the pro-am and he put the bag on his shoulder a significant amount … He’s limping a little bit right now. I’m sure it’s a little sore. I’m sure he’s hiding it a little bit, too. He seems to be all right, thinks he’s going to be good to go.”

Furyk will need his right-hand man to be on his A-game this week as the pair take on the top-72 players from the season-long Schwab Cup points list, especially at 54-hole Champions tour events that are more of a sprint than a marathon compared to the 72-hole Tour stops.

“You can have a bad nine holes out on the PGA Tour, you’ve got seven more to kind of catch up. Out here you play a bad nine holes, you feel like you’ve put yourself behind the eight ball,” said Furyk, who enjoys the pressure and chance to be aggressive.

“I think playing a golf course that’s 7,000 yards gives me a little more chance to be aggressive, fire at more pins. I’ve got a little shorter iron in my hand. When we’re playing out on Tour and we’re sitting at 73, 74 and I’ve got 5-iron, 4-iron in my hand a lot, I’ve got to play a lot more conservative. Conservative isn’t fun, aggressive is fun.”

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