LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A midseason break could wind up paying big dividends for Jim Furyk at the PGA Championship.
The 44-year-old Furyk carved out a monthlong sabbatical after his 12th-place tie in the U.S. Open. Second at last year's PGA, he shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday in the first round at Valhalla Golf Club, climbing into a five-way tie for fourth — a stroke out of the lead.
Furyk started the warm, mostly sunny morning on the back nine alongside Miguel Angel Jimenez and Charl Schwartzel. He birdied the par-3 14th and finished 1 under on that side, then birdied No. 1, ran off five straight pars and closed with three consecutive birdies.
"It's nice to be in a major championship, and throwing up a good number early in the week," said Furyk, who won the 2003 U.S. Open. "Got myself in a good position now."
After his summer break, Furyk's solid run began last month with a fourth-place finish in the British Open. He blew the final-round lead a week later in the Canadian Open and settled for second at Royal Montreal, then tied for 15th last week at Firestone in the World Golf Championship event.
Then again, Furyk led the first and third rounds in this major last year before finishing second to Jason Dufner.
"I'm fresh; mentally, feel pretty good out there," Furyk said. "I guess surprisingly after a month off, there wasn't a ton of golf in that time. I played a little bit; I came out mechanically sound. I hit the ball very well at both the British Open and Canadian Open and really didn't miss a beat."