It took 21 years for a second PGA Tour Champions player to win his first two starts since Bruce Fleisher accomplished it for the first time in 1999. That was Jim Furyk last month when he won the Pure Insurance Open at Pebble Beach, after winning the Ally Challenge in Grand Blanc, Mich., on Aug. 1.
Phil Mickelson became the third less than a month later.
Furyk and Mickelson have dominated the PGA Tour Champions since both became eligible by turning 50 years old in June. Mickelson made it 2-for-2 in his starts by winning last week’s Dominion Energy Classic at the Country Club of Virginia. He took the lead from fellow left-hander Mike Weir on the back nine, and built on it with two-putt birdies at a short par-4 (he drove the green) and a par-5 on back-to-back holes.
Furyk tied for 13th, two weeks after he tied for ninth at the SAS Championship, ending his bid for three victories in a row. However, he’s ninth on the money list, less than $25,000 behind Mickelson.
While Furyk said he still plans to play occasionally on the PGA Tour, the former FedEx Cup Champion said the Champions Tour is calling his name a little louder these days.
“I think this is going to be my home and just excited to play some golf,” Furyk said. “It was fun to compete, get in contention for two weeks. I’d definitely like to get that feeling again.”
The two have come out of the gates with birdies blazing. Mickelson, who is in the PGA Tour field this week at the Zozo Championship, has a scoring average of 65.0, is a cumulative 39-under par and has yet to post a score in the 70s on the Champions Tour. He is averaging 7.5 birdies per round.
“It’s fun for me to come out here and play well and this is a good start for me as I try to build a little bit of momentum heading to Augusta in about a month,” Mickelson after his second victory. “I put a new driver into play this week, trying to get a little more pop, a little more carry. It was a little wayward at times, but it was also effective in allowing me to play this course the way I wanted to, which was aggressively.
“So there were some good things that came of it, and I also identified some areas I’ve got to work on. All in all, it was a really fun, successful week.”
Stat lines are different, but both successful
Furyk is averaging 68.5, with eight of 12 rounds in the 60s and is 42-under par.
But both are using different ways to win, as they have throughout their careers. Mickelson is averaging 311 yards per measured drive, and has hit 79 percent of his greens. Furyk is averaging 282 yards per drive, but hitting 78 percent of his fairways and 81 percent of his greens.
Mickelson also continued a recent trend of marquee winners on the Champions Tour. After players such as Doug Barron, Shane Bertsch, Brandt Jobe and Wes Short Jr., won in the late summer following Furyk’s first victory, the last five winners have been Mickelson, Ernie Els, Steve Stricker, Furyk and Miguel Angel Jimenez.