Jim Furyk visited Timuquana Country Club on Monday, the first day of match play in the 5th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, and it reminded the 2003 U.S. Open champion of his introduction to USGA championships more than 30 years ago.
“The first thing I tried to qualify for was the U.S. Junior and I was able to play one time, out at Singletree in Colorado,” said Furyk, 48, of the 1987 championship. “But even as a junior, I tried to qualify for the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open. I was able to qualify for the U.S. Amateur three times.”
The highlight came the summer before his senior year in high school.
“The most exciting thing for me was making it through the local qualifier for the U.S. Open,” Furyk recalled. “The nearest sectional qualifier was in Washington, D.C., near the Kemper Open, and I got paired with Bob Gilder [a six-time PGA Tour winner] and I played right behind [seven-time PGA Tour winner] Peter Jacobsen.”
Gilder was the medalist that day, but Furyk may have been the big winner.
“Here I was, a 17-year-old kid and I got paired with a bunch of Tour pros,” Furyk said. “It was definitely an eye-opening experience, and a great lesson. I didn’t play very well, but to come full circle six years later and be able to qualify for the Open as a rookie on Tour was a lot of fun.”
Furyk’s experience at 17 is a prime example of the democratic nature of USGA championships.
“You go out and fire a number and if you’re good enough, you qualify,” said Furyk, who holds the PGA Tour record for lowest round, a 58 he shot at the Travelers Championship in 2016. “That’s the beauty of the U.S. Open, that it’s truly an open tournament and everyone can qualify to tee it up with the best in the world.”
Furyk applauds the USGA’s two four-ball events, which started in 2015 and are being played for the fifth time.