Jim Furyk scores impressive double at US Senior Open| Today Headlines

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) — Getting into a US Open is tough. Participating in two Opens in consecutive weeks is twice as embarrassing.

Jim Furyk will complete the formidable USGA double this week. The 2003 US Open winner will follow an abbreviated appearance at the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, with the defense of his title at the 42nd US Senior Open at the Old Course at Saucon Valley Country Club.

Furyk, 52, missed the cut by one shot at last week’s National Championship with rounds of 74 and 71. It was his first trip back to the site of the dramatic 1999 Ryder Cup, where he was part of the American team that rallied on the final day for a one-point win over Europe.

Furyk has given a lot of thought to the possibility of playing back-to-back Opens.

“I was a little worried about energy and making sure I didn’t burn out this week,” he said. “The US Open takes a lot of your time both mentally and physically because it’s very demanding.

“But that being said, the conditions of last week…it’s very good preparation for this week. This one isn’t going to surprise me, let’s put it that way.”

Furyk returns to his native Pennsylvania as one of eight US Open and Senior Open winners. He considers himself lucky to be mentioned among some of golf’s greatest champions, including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin, Billy Casper and Orville Moody.

“It’s special,” Furyk said. “I’ve won a major tournament in my career, so winning at Olympia Fields is kind of the crowning glory of my career personally. And then coming here on the Champions Tour and winning my first Senior Open and being able to add that to the record books , it’s very fun, special and meant a lot to me.

Furyk had the chance to share the emotional experience of winning the 2003 Open with his father and coach, Mike, on Father’s Day. Last year at Omaha Country Club, he struggled early in the final round with a bogey and a double bogey on the second and third holes, losing most of his lead to four strokes. This time, Furyk got to experience another special father-son dynamic with his son, Tanner.

“Funny moment, I saw my son…after he did the double at three, and he looked extremely nervous,” Furyk said. “I mean he looked like he wanted to vomit. And that kind of made me laugh. … He looked exactly like how I felt. It just sort of lightened me up.

Furyk stabilized his game – and eased his son’s distress – and finished 7 under, three strokes ahead of two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen and 2003 Masters winner Mike Weir.

Saucon Valley will feature a typical open test, with a premium on tee accuracy to avoid deep, rough approaches and set up manageable approaches for its fast, sloping greens.

Founded in 1920 by local businessmen, mostly Bethlehem Steel, Saucon Valley hosts its eighth USGA Championship and is the first to host three Senior Opens. Larry Laoretti (1992) and Irwin (2000) are the previous winners.

Furyk, raised in neighboring Lancaster County, got his first glimpse of Saucon Valley last month and was impressed by the Herbert Strong design which will play 300 yards longer than the 2000 event, at just over 7,000 yards and a par-71. He believes the layout’s biggest defense is its greens, especially with some long par-4 holes that will require long irons in smaller putting surfaces.

“The difficulty is really on the greens; the greens have bite,” said the 17-time PGA Tour winner and two-time PGA Tour Champions.

Ernie Els, two-time US Open champion, agreed that putting would probably be the difference this week.

“The putt is going to be a factor,” said Els, who won the Open in 1994 and 1997. “It’s always been a factor for me. In a US Open, you have to put those putts in the hole, especially It’s hard to get putts within four or five feet here because of the slope, so the out putts must be good.

“It also comes down to hitting the ball. … When you take him out of play, you’re going to struggle to get the ball where it needs to be, and that’s where the putt becomes a factor again.

The field of 156 golfers includes many big names, such as US Open winners Goosen, Lee Janzen and Michael Campbell. Previous senior Open champions in competition include Bernhard Langer (2010), Colin Montgomerie (2014), Steve Stricker (2019) and David Toms (2018).

Other participants in the 90th USGA Championship to be held in Pennsylvania are PGA Tour Champions stalwarts Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jerry Kelly, along with 50+ set rookie David Duval and New Zealand winner Steven Alker. of the Senior PGA Championship last month.


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