Tournament Host Jim Furyk in The Mix at Constellation Furyk and Friends

Jim Furyk, Constellation Furyk & Friends,(Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
Jim Furyk, Constellation Furyk & Friends,(Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images) /

Jim Furyk, host of the Constellation Furyk & Friends tournament on PGA Tour Champions, was tied for the lead after round one of his own event alongside veteran Steve Flesch and relative newcomer Rob Labritz, who won the PGA Tour Champions Q-School tournament.

While the three were at 5-under par, a large group of excellent players was marching behind them, just looking for an opening.  Mike Weir was one shot back. Steve Stricker, Padraig Harrington, and Miguel Angel Jimenez, all frequent winners were at 3-under par.   In other words, the lead was far from secure.

Steve Flesch noted changes that had been made to the golf course in the last 12 months.

“It’s a lot firmer, faster.  Greens are tough to get the ball close on this year. Seems like the run-offs are a little more severe than they were,” Flesch explained.

Flesch has won twice this season, the first victory coming at TPC Sugarloaf at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic outside Atlanta and last week at Pebble Beach in the Pure Insurance Championship.

"“Every club in my bag’s on waivers.” – Steve Flesch"

He had the same clubs that he used at Pebble Beach with the exception of his 3-wood and hybrid.

“Every club in my bag’s on waivers,” he quipped about his equipment. “Just because I won last week didn’t mean they were all performing well. I hit a couple good shots at the right time to get the win.”

He said he understands why some players like to keep the same clubs, but he doesn’t feel that way.

“Doesn’t bother me.  I’ll switch three days in a row,” he said.

Labritz has played 21 tournaments already this season with a 4th at the U.S. Senior Open being his best result.  He credited his excellent result in round one to a putter change and a lesson from his putting coach, David Orr, last Friday.

The putter change was from an OG Odyssey to a triple lie Odyssey.

“Massive sweet spot, feels like I could hit it with my eyes closed and it will go in. I hope it stays that way,” he said about the club change.

The lesson helped him get his arms and body back in sync during the stroke and allowed him to stabilize the face of the putter through impact.

In addition, Labritz is comfortable on Donald Ross-style greens which are, typically, elevated somewhat with nasty roll-offs along all the edges of them.

Ross was the original designer of Timuquana CC where the tournament is being played.  Though the course has been renovated a few times, the Ross design characteristics have been retained.

Jim Furyk had a lot of things working until, as the saying goes, they didn’t.

Initially, he was putting well even though he was fighting his driver.

“In the middle of the round, I actually hit the ball really solid, kind of felt like me of old a little bit, and hit a bunch of fairways and greens and felt really good about my game,” he said.

Then the driver went AWOL again, but he fought to stay in the game.

"“The golf course got, I don’t know what you want to call it, crispy, crunchy,” he explained. “It was firm. It was fast. The greens were lightning, so a lot of balls rolling off greens.”"

Jim Furyk added that he got some good breaks during the round, particularly when he hit bad drives.

"“I made two or three really exciting escapes we’ll say, where somehow I managed to fit it through a window and get it back in play.”"

His worst drive was probably on the 16th hole where a pulled shot landed in between several tree trunks.  He could not advance it to the green.

“No excuse,” Jim Furyk admitted. “It was an awful, awful drive, kind of low left, rolled over there.”

He was considering putting it to the fairway because it was sitting in a slight hole in a sandy area.  However, he wedged it out to short grass and then made a miraculous shot, hitting it a foot from the pin to save his par.

Jim Furyk had but one bogey and that was because he hit into a bunker and ended up slightly under the lip.

"“I hit a decent shot kind of on the front of the green (from the bunker) and blew the first putt way by the hole and missed it coming back,”“I know that green, I know that that putt. Even though it’s uphill, it’s fast and I still managed to blow it way by.”"

While he had to rely on all aspects of his game, he was proud of his putting, making several Jordan Spieth-like 10-15-20 footers and sometimes just hitting the ball close to the flag.

“On this golf course, right now, with some pins on the edges, it’s hard to get the ball real close,” he concluded.

"“It’s like playing Pinehurst (No. 2) a little bit, where if they do get a pin towards the edge, you get on the short-side, it’s taking off, and it’s going to be tough to make par.”"

Should Jim Furyk go on to win, he will join other tournament hosts who have won their own events, like Jack Nicklaus at The Memorial, Tiger Woods at the Hero World Challenge and the Quicken Loans when it was in Washington, D.C. and — you can’t make this up with everything going on — Greg Norman at the QBE Shootout.

Next. Jim Furyk Learned What It Takes To Host Champions Tour Event. dark

Arnold Palmer won the Florida Citrus Open in Orlando, but that was at Rio Pinar, not Bay Hill. It was prior to Palmer’s purchase of the Bay Hill property.

Byron Nelson won the AT&T Byron Nelson, but it was before he retired and before his name was associated with the event.

Ben Hogan was a five-time winner at the Charles Schwab Challenge (formerly the Colonial National Invitation), and while he was always closely associated with the tournament, he was not the tournament host.