U.S. SENIOR OPEN
Furyk Rebounds After Rocky Start to Capture 41st U.S. Senior Open
July 11, 2021 | Omaha, Neb.
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
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 U.S. Senior Open, Jim Furyk got back to what has made him one of the best players of his era and the 2003 U.S. Open champion: consistency.
Furyk, 51, settled down and played 2-under-par golf over the next 11 holes to restore his advantage and went on to capture the championship in his debut. The Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., resident who grew up in West Chester, Pa., completed a final round of 1-over-par 71 for a total of 7-under 273, good for a three-stroke victory over two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and 2003 Masters winner Mike Weir. The victory made Furyk the eighth man to win both the U.S. Open and U.S. 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 4 or 5 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.
|PLAYER||U.S. OPEN||U.S. SENIOR OPEN|
|Billy Casper||1959, 1966||1983|
|Hale Irwin||1974, 1979, 1990||1998, 2000|
|Jack Nicklaus||1962, 1967, 1972, 1980||1991, 1993|
|Gary Player||1965||1987, 1988|
|Lee Trevino||1968, 1971||1990|
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.”
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 third, 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 sixth, 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 4 into a 5, 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 3-under 67s, the best rounds of the day. Pampling finished solo fourth at 3-under 277, while 2010 U.S. Senior Open champion Bernhard Langer and Kevin Sutherland were the only other players under par, in a tie for fifth at 1-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.
- Of the 34 amateurs who started the week – the most since 2012 – four made the cut, and William Mitchell of Atlanta, Ga., came through on the weekend with rounds of 72-74 to earn low-amateur honors and a berth in the 121st U.S. Amateur Championship at Oakmont in August, among other perks. Mitchell, 57, is a performance health coach who has worked with a number of PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players, including Stewart Cink, Roberto Castro, Casey Wittenberg and Mariah Stackhouse, as well as many high school and college teams. Mitchell, who played the final round with two-time major champion Mark O’Meara, outlasted Todd White by four strokes with a 12-over total of 292, after trailing him by three entering the weekend. “I didn’t hit it really well on the back nine, but I made some really spectacular up-and-downs. I feel a little emotional about it. A lot of people helped me get here; it’s very special.”
- As Greg Kraft was playing his second hole in Round 2 on Friday, his caddie, Tom Kurey, suffered a calf injury that sidelined him. Kraft needed a caddie, and quickly, so he looked to the standard bearer for the group, Jackson Herbert, who will be a senior at Creighton Prep in Omaha in the fall. “I could tell he was a golfer when I met him on the first tee,” said Kraft. “I said, do you mind carrying the bag until they bring a caddie out? And he said, ‘Sure, I caddie here all the time.’ So that's what we did.” Kraft got on a roll, putting together one of the best rounds of the week, a 5-under 65, and he signed Herbert on as caddie for the rest of the week. Kraft shot 70 on Saturday and completed his week at 8-over 288 after a round of 78 on Sunday. “It’s been fun,” said Kraft. “He’s a great kid and a good help. He knows exactly what to do.”
- Playing in first U.S. Senior Open, two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els of South Africa posted his first under-par round of the week on Sunday, a 1-under 69, to complete the championship at 3-over 283 for a share of 19th place.
- The scoring average rose from 71.53 in Round 3 to 73.89 in Round 4, a 2.36 increase that is by far the largest in the past 30 years of this championship. The next-largest increase in scoring average was 1.68 strokes in 2018 at The Broadmoor. In the 2013 championship at Omaha, the average went up by about a half-stroke from Round 3 to Round 4.
“Obviously it could have been really hot and humid all week, but with the two fronts that came through and all the rain that we got, it really softened up the golf course. And we played a couple of rounds with the wind out of either the northeast or northwest, as opposed to the south wind that we would normally get. So we got a variety of winds and conditions to compete in.” – Bob Estes, who shot a 1-under 69 on Sunday to follow up his 4th-place finish in 2019 with a T-8 finish this week
“I practiced on Friday afternoon and found something in the strike. And unfortunately, the putter went cold. The putter was good the first two days, because I could have shot 80-80 pretty easy. And then I hit the ball well and the putter went cold. And that’s just golf.” – Two-time U.S. Senior Open runner-up Jerry Kelly, who shot 69-69 on the weekend to also finish T-8
“I struggled with my swing the last few weeks, and the beginning of the week I was actually quite depressed, you know? So to come out a tie for second is pretty good. I scrambled well. I chopped a lot of grass out there and managed to get it done. But Jim played solid all week.” – Retief Goosen, who shot three consecutive under-par rounds to finish at 4-under 276
“I worked really hard on my game this year. I still feel like I've got some stuff I need to work on, but to see the fruits of that labor is very satisfying. To play the last 15 holes that well under the conditions was really exciting and gratifying.” – Jim Furyk
The Social Scene
Congrats to #JimFuryk winning #USSeniorOpen today at @omahacclub hopefully the first of many Senior majors for one of the nicest guys in professional golf. It was very nice of him to take a minute to pose with me for this picture @FirestoneCC #ClassAct #Champion pic.twitter.com/9EVyWDVQgR— Lance W Pete (@lwptah) July 12, 2021