Like many before him, Jim Furyk’s indoctrination into the world of the Champions Tour has been welcoming.
Old friends. Old course. And the advantage of going from being one of the oldest bodies on the PGA Tour back to young-pup status.
Playing Warwick Hills outside of Flint, Michigan — the course that housed the PGA Tour’s Buick Open for years, and where he made the cut in all 15 of his starts in that event — Furyk looked right at home, posting a bogey-free 66 that puts him one off the lead heading into Sunday’s final round.
Furyk, who sits at 10-under par after two rounds, likened the experience to the first day of school — but with a twist.
“It’s been fun. It’s been great to be back at a golf course that I always
enjoyed playing when we were here on the PGA Tour and great to see some old friends,” Furyk said. “I told my wife, I always feel like the first round — I probably said it earlier in the week, the first round of the PGA Tour every year is like the first day of school, you get excited, you get a little nervous.
“Coming out here on the Champions Tour, I told her it was like the first
day of high school but I had been homeschooled the last five years. Lots of folks I hadn’t seen in a lot of years and a lot of good friends, and so just good to say hello to everyone.”
Furyk won the Buick Open at Warwick Hills in 2003, finished second twice and placed in the top 25 in all but three of his appearances in Grand Blanc.
Meanwhile, Brett Quigley raced in front of the pack during the second round, posting eight birdies in his first 14 holes during Saturday play, then cruised home to 11 under with a series of pars to take the one-stroke lead into the clubhouse over Furyk, Carlos Franco and Tommy Armour III. Quigley has picked up right where he left off before the break, but he admitted during Saturday’s round that he was too keen to get going on Friday and needed a day to settle in.
“I was trying to shoot 20 under the front nine yesterday. I was just trying to force everything after being off for so long. I was like, oh my gosh, now I’ve got to go bogey the first hole. And I was like, what am I doing out here?” Quigley said. “And really struggled the front nine and brought it together the back nine, and then came out today and played a little bit more like I’m capable of playing.”
The resident of Jupiter, Florida, said he wasn’t sure the Champions Tour would resurface this summer, so any opportunity to play is something of a bonus.
Quigley won his second start, in Morocco on Feb. 1, then added another top-10 finish and was second on the senior circuit’s money list (to Bernhard Langer) with $481,687.
“It’s almost like winning the lottery, because we just weren’t sure we were going to play. Other sports, PGA Tour, the PGA Tour Champions, have done such a great job getting us back and getting us back playing and keeping us safe, keeping us tested, and keeping everybody with the appearance of being healthy,” Quigley said. “So it’s great. It was a tough one to sit down, but certainly great to be back and back playing and thankful that we are.”
Other prominent names looming include Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, Kirk Triplett, Tom Lehman, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els, all at 6 under.