After making bogey-double bogey on his second and third holes to lose most of the four-stroke lead he began the day with in the 41st US Senior Open, Jim Furyk got back to what has made him one of the best players of his era and the 2003 US Open champion: consistency.
Furyk, 51, settled down and played two-under-par golf over the next 11 holes to restore his advantage and went on to capture the championship in his debut. The Jacksonville, Fla., resident who grew up in West Chester, Pa., completed a final round of one-over-par 71 for a total of seven-under 273, good for a three-stroke victory over two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen and 2003 Masters winner Mike Weir. The victory made Furyk the eighth man to win both the US Open and US Senior Open titles, joining a list that includes Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Hale Irwin and Lee Trevino.
“I’m not sure I ever felt comfortable out there,” said Furyk, whose middle rounds of 64-66 tied the championship scoring record. “This is a dangerous golf course – you’re not worried about making low scores; you’re worried about making ‘others'. I just tried to worry about my own game, and on No. 17 it was a relief to see where I stood and know that a four or five on 18 would win the tournament.”
Furyk nearly holed a long putt from 75 feet on the final hole before tapping in for par, giving him his third victory as an over-50 player and first senior major.
Asked whether he knew where he stood as he struggled out of the gate, Furyk chuckled and referenced the violent storms that buffeted the course on Friday night and Saturday. “I didn’t really look at scoreboards; a bunch of them got knocked down for one thing.”
“I’m not sure I ever felt comfortable out there. This is a dangerous golf course – you’re not worried about making low scores; you’re worried about making ‘others'." – Jim Furyk
Furyk and Stephen Ames, who began the day in solo second place, both made double bogey out of treacherous lies in the left bunker on the par-3 3rd, which left Goosen just one stroke back. But Furyk settled in with a pair of routine pars and his first birdie of the day on the par-5 6th, while Goosen made a three-putt bogey on No. 5. After that, Furyk was never seriously threatened.
“I think I got a little greedy [out of the bunker], and tried to throw it across the green a little farther and maybe give myself a 10- or 15-footer for par,” said Furyk. “I was just a little mad at myself for turning a four into a five, which you got a big lead going into Sunday, that’s what you’re trying to avoid. So I was really just trying to collect myself, and I thought the tee shot at 4 and the iron shot at 4 were very key. I hit two very good shots and gave myself a good look at birdie.”
Weir and Rod Pampling both made birdies on No. 18 to complete three-under 67s, the best rounds of the day. Pampling finished solo fourth at three-under 277, while 2010 US Senior Open champion Bernhard Langer and Kevin Sutherland were the only other players under par, in a tie for fifth at one-under 279.
Langer, 63, became the oldest player to post a top-five finish since Hale Irwin, who was age 66 in 2011. It also marked Langer’s seventh top-10 finish in a Senior Open, one back of the record held by four others.
As for Furyk, the victory was a milestone in that he had failed to convert a lead or co-lead the past 10 times he had held one, since he held on to win the 2010 Tour Championship. Five of those were co-leads, three were one stroke, and one was three strokes. The four-stroke advantage – and that hallmark of his game, consistency – proved to be just the ticket on Sunday at Omaha Country Club.