TUCSON, Ariz. — They battled on several occasions in college, and each helped their team win an NCAA Championship. They sit in the Nos. 2 and 3 spots on the PGA Tour’s all-time money list. They both won their first two events on the PGA Tour Champions.
And they’ll lock horns once again this week at Tucson National for the Cologuard Classic.
Phil Mickelson, from Arizona State, and Jim Furyk, who played at Arizona, are set to play the event for the first time, as they are both eligible after having turned 50 last year.
Mickelson will have a chance at history: no golfer has ever won his first three starts on a PGA Tour-sanctioned tour. For Furyk, returning to his college stomping grounds is a trip down memory lane.
“My first top 10 on the PGA Tour, it was my second event as a rookie. … played a solid 1 under on Sunday, finished seventh. It was a good confident boost right there at Tucson National. It’s a place that I played a lot and practiced out of in college and as a young professional. It’s a golf course I haven’t played now in probably over 10 years but it’s a place I know very well and it’s kinda dear to my heart,” Furyk said. “It’s a good spot for me and brings back great memories.”
Tucson has great memories for Mickelson, too. On Jan. 13, 1991, Mickelson won the Northern Telecom Open as an amateur. He remains the last amateur to win a PGA Tour event.
“I can’t believe it’s been 30 years, it just has raced by,” he said on Thursday at the course after his pro-am. “It brings back a lot of those memories. And Steve Loy and I have been spending some time the last few days—he caddied for me that week, he was my college golf coach—as we were talking about all the great things that have happened certainly the week here and all around that week and that win and how much fun we had. It’s a really special place to me.”
College wasn’t the first time these two met on the golf course.
“I remember playing with Jim back in junior golf and one memory that stands out for me was it was raining and he had these white cotton gloves and he had no problems gripping the club. I thought, wow, I’ve never seen that,” Mickelson said. “It’s little things like that that we kind of carry through. Jim’s one of the most quality guys on the PGA Tour and I’m very appreciative of our friendship over the years.”
Furyk got in some solid prep at the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational last week. He opened with a 69 and after making the cut, closed with a 69 to finish T-26 in a stacked field that included eight of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking.
While he can still make Tour cuts, Furyk knows his future, and quite frankly most of his present, is on the senior circuit.
“I am playing some on the PGA Tour but I consider my home tour the Champions tour,” he said, noting that the competition is real.
“The competition is strong,” he said. “Folks think that on the Champions tour you go play your 18 holes and then you head to the locker room and you sit around and have a glass of wine or a beer and tell stories. … I tell you, the driving range is full of guys practicing. The chipping and putting is full of guys practicing. The guys are still competitive and they are still hungry and that’s what we all enjoy. We enjoy the competition and maybe I don’t have to hit 320 yards anymore to do so. I’m enjoying it.”
As for Mickelson, he admits he’s just not ready to make the Champions tour his full-time tour.
“I haven’t looked at the Champions events. I will play the Players and Honda and most likely play Valero and Masters,” he said. “I’m going to wait to commit to that (Valero) because there’s a few things that might change, but that’s kind of my schedule through the Masters. And I really haven’t looked at much past that and I haven’t really looked at Champions Tour schedule.
“I want to start playing on the regular Tour with a little bit less stress. I’ve been really hard on myself when I make some mistakes and I’ve got to kind of ease up and play a little bit more free and a little bit lighter. If I can do that, I think I can shoot some pretty good scores out there.”
Two days ago on Twitter, Lefty showed off the three copper helmets that he won for claiming those three Tour events. The Tucson Conquistadors, who run the event and previously ran the PGA Tour stop here, have continued the helmet tradition at the Cologuard Classic.
Throwing something specific into the universe . Excited to tee it up in Tucson this week, 30 years after it all began! pic.twitter.com/iqCvw4yJMI
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) February 23, 2021
Mickelson says he’s like to add another to his collection.
“I’ve got three of them that are wanting a fourth, they want a nice even number. They want a foursome. They don’t like to go out as three, they’re always looking for a fourth, so that would be a nice fit.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/02/25/pga-tour-champions-phil-mickelson-jim-furyk-cologuard-classic/