Jim Furyk is Ageless

Age is Nothing But a Number for Jim Furyk

So what if Jim Furyk is 51.

So what if he won the Sony Open in Hawaii in 1996 and his most recent win on the PGA Tour came in 2015.

So what if he’s playing in next week’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, the 2022 kickoff for the PGA Tour Champions.

Count him out at this week’s Sony Open at your own peril.

The winner of 17 PGA Tour titles, among them the 2003 U.S. Open, shot an 8-under 62 Thursday to trail defending champion Kevin Na by one shot through 18 holes of the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

Furyk is the second oldest player in the field (Jerry Kelly has him by four years) and punctuated his round with an ace on the par-3 17th, which came after making three consecutive birdies.

“I’ve always loved being here,” said Furyk, who has three Champions victories, including the 2021 U.S. Senior Open. “I love Sony. It’s a place I had a lot of success. I think I lost in a playoff in ’97. Had a lot of top 10s here. Love the course.

“I’m not hitting the ball far enough to compete out here on a regular basis on a lot of the golf courses. But Waialae is a place I still feel I can get around and shoot under par pretty well and so it’s fun.”

It was Furyk’s sixth PGA Tour ace and he used a 6-iron.

“Caught it just a smidge high in the face,” he said. “And so I loved the line it was on but I wasn’t quite sure I caught enough of it to cover it. And carried on the green probably two or three yards and landed in a perfect spot and then released towards the pin. I guess that’s kind of the line I was looking. You never want to miss that green right. Want to make sure I hit it solid to cover.”

Na, who also shot 61 last year en route to his fifth PGA Tour title, hit every fairway in regulation and was bogey free. He said he started thinking about shooting a 59 when he made eagle on the ninth hole to move to 6 under. A birdie on the 10th got him to 7 under, but he missed some good scoring chances coming in and recorded his fifth 61 or better on Tour.

Na needed 369 starts to get his first PGA Tour win – the 2011 Justin Timberlake Shriner’s Hospital for Children Open – but has won once in each of the past four seasons.

“I played unbelievably well. I did everything well today and my iron play was amazing. My distance control has been great,” said Na, who began his round shortly after Furyk completed his. “For playing a brand new ball, I’m doing pretty well controlling my distance. And I tell you what, I had a chance for a 59. I gave it all I could. I’m a little disappointed my putts didn’t fall, some of the good putts that I hit didn’t fall. But it’s still a good round.

“It was nice to see Jim shoot 61, what an incredible round and how good he is, still is, at age 52, is it? 51? That’s incredible. I hope some day to be that good when I’m 51. It just shows you that it’s out there. I felt like, you know, a good round could be somewhere near that.”

Joining Furyk at 62 was 2013 Sony Open champion Russell Henley.

At 63 were Kevin Chappell, Michael Thompson, Seamus Power and Patton Kizzire. At 64 were six players, including Ryan Palmer and Matt Kuchar.

Chappell, who had been bothered by back ailments for years, had microdiscectomy and laminectomy surgery on his back in 2018. In his first start after the procedure, he shot a 59 in the 2019 Military Tribute at the Greenbrier. But he’s struggled since returning; he hasn’t had a top-10 finish in 31 starts since.

“I definitely had some lingering stuff going last year coming from my back, and kind of end of the year I decided, I wasn’t good physically, I wasn’t good mentally and I needed to take some time (off),” Chappell said. “The Tour has been phenomenal with that, supporting me. Really dove into the mental side and believe it or not, the better I got mentally, the better my back got.

“It’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s been great. Every tee shot is still uncomfortable for me, but it’s such a wonderful place to be. I’ve been working my ass off, excuse my language. Like I said, I didn’t expect it, but I’m not surprised. I’ve been seeing some good stuff at home and really proud of the work I’ve done.”

Furyk, the only player in PGA Tour history to shoot two sub-60 rounds and the only player to sign for a 58, shot his lowest total score since shooting 65 in the 2019 World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He last won on the PGA Tour since in 2015 RBC Heritage.

After starting with a 3-putt from 85 feet, Furyk made 150 feet of putts, including birdie putts of 11, 16, 25, 31 and 33 feet, as well as two two-footers.

“Everything was kind of at the hole and on target,” he said.

Furyk said he played a practice round with Brent Grant this week and Grant called him “sir.”

“Later on he asked me what I liked most about the Champions Tour, and I said, ‘No one calls me ‘sir,’” Furyk said. “He said his dad would be angry with him if he didn’t.”

Furyk knows his age will come up when he’s contending on the PGA Tour. So, naturally, he was asked about his good friend, Phil Mickelson, who at 50 became the oldest player to win a major in last year’s PGA Championship, and Bernhard Langer, who won a Champions Tour event last year at age 64.

This article originally appeared on Golfweek.