Jim Furyk makes it 2 for 2 on PGA Tour Champions

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Jim Furyk joined Arnold Palmer and Bruce Fleisher as the only players to win their first two PGA Tour Champions starts, beating Jerry Kelly with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff Sunday in the Pure Insurance Championship.

The 50-year-old Furyk won The Ally Championship last month in Michigan in his tour debut. Palmer won his first two events in 1980, and Fleisher accomplished the feat in 1999.

“I feel very fortunate, it means a lot,” Furyk said. “When I won at Ally, I hadn’t won in over five years. It’s why we play the game, it’s why you work so hard, it’s to have this feeling. I feel honored I guess to be mentioned with AP. I look at the hard work I put in a lot of this year through our delay, our break.”

Furyk and Kelly both laid up on the par-5 18th in the playoff, with Kelly hitting his approach to 10 feet and Furyk following with a 90-yard wedge to 3 feet. Furyk holed his birdie try after Kelly pulled his attempt.

“The first time in there I tried to kind of cut a gap wedge and I hit it just how I wanted, saw how firm that green was, it kicked forward,” Furyk said. “So with it not playing quite as long, it was kind of a perfect go-ahead-and-hit sand wedge, I knew I could spin it. ”

Furyk closed with a 5-under 67 — a day after losing the lead to Ernie Els with a second-round 73 — to match Kelly at 12-under 204. Playing three groups ahead of Furyk and four in front of Els, Kelly birdied the 18th for a 65.

Els missed a 2-foot putt on the 18th to finish a stroke out of the playoff. The South African star shot his second straight 70.

“I just missed the putt, kind of misread it,” Els said. “I battled hard. I didn’t quite have my swing.”

Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open winner and 17-time PGA Tour champion, played the first six holes Sunday in 5 under — making an eagle on the par-5 second and three birdies —- then parred the final 12.

“I drove the ball so well today and especially on the back nine,” Furyk said, “I didn’t score as well on the back, but I drove the ball well, relied on that, tried to make the same swing.”

Mike Weir (69) and Retief Goosen (70) tied for fourth at 9 under.

Dicky Pride, playing alongside Els in the final group, had a 77 to drop into a tie for 25th at 3 under.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was played without spectators and juniors from The First Tee program. The amateur field was cut to 80.

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