PITTSFORD, N.Y. — It would be easy for Jim Furyk to sit and stew over the major championships that have slipped through his grasp, rather than relish the one he's bagged and the many other achievements he's piled up over a PGA Tour career that's pushing 20 years.
So when the question about missed major opportunities came Furyk's way Thursday afternoon, not long after his 5-under-par 65 gave him the lead with Adam Scott after the first round of the 95th PGA Championship, Furyk answered honestly.
"I guess I look back to the '98 Masters. I bogeyed 15, hit it in the water, and lost by two. [In the] '98 [British Open] was tied for the lead coming down the stretch, didn't hit one bad shot, and lost by two because I didn't knock in a putt. US Open at Winged Foot , US Open at Oakmont , US Open at Olympic . There were opportunities there," Furyk said. "It's disappointing, but this sport beats you up.
"If I played 25 events a year and I win one event a year for my entire career, you've won over 20 times on the PGA Tour. You're [also] going to lose 24 times a year. You've got to take your lumps."
Furyk has 16 PGA Tour wins, including his lone major championship, at the 2003 US Open. He got off to a super start Thursday in his quest to add to those numbers, playing bogey-free golf at Oak Hill Country Club until his 18th hole. Still, the 65 is his lowest opening-round score in any of the 73 majors in which he has played.
Weather suspended play for 70 minutes in the afternoon, but all 156 players were able to finish their rounds. Scores were low, with 35 players breaking par. That's one more round in the 60s than Oak Hill gave up over the entire four days in 2003, the last time the PGA Championship was played here.
Thursday's group of 35 players under par did not include Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson. Woods, four days removed from winning the Bridgestone Invitational by seven shots, double bogeyed his final hole to shoot 71. That number was matched by Mickelson. The British Open winner also closed with a double bogey in the afternoon's marquee pairing of 2013 major champions, along with Scott and Justin Rose (68).
Furyk kept the big number off his card. Taking advantage of a course softened by overnight rain, he darted to the early lead with six birdies, including a 40-footer at his seventh hole, the 16th. More than anything else, the putter has held Furyk back this year; he's been a nonfactor in the majors, with missed cuts at the US Open and British Open and a tie for 25th at the Masters.
That wasn't the case Thursday.
"Today was probably one of the best putting rounds, if not the best putting round, I've had this year," Furyk said. "I knocked in a bunch of putts, feel like I did a good job getting the ball on a good line where I was looking."
Like Furyk, Scott made six birdies in his round against a lone bogey. His came courtesy of a three-putt at the 16th hole, and dropped the Masters champion out of the outright lead. That didn't seem to faze the Aussie. Now, someone who has consistently contended recently in majors — before finally breaking through at Augusta National — finds himself in solid position once again, albeit after just one day.
"Right now it's irrelevant, I think. I have just got to keep playing and worry about whether I'm in front or behind come Sunday," Scott said. "I like what I'm doing, so I am just going to keep doing it."
Scott quickly worked his way into a tie with Furyk by making five straight birdies, starting at No. 4, and shooting an outward 30. The weather delay, which came when Scott was on the 11th tee, seemed to slow his momentum, but Scott ended his round with a 10-foot par save at No. 18 after driving into the right rough.
"It was a dream start," Scott said of the birdies on Nos. 4-8. "To make one on 18 and get something out of a round that I felt could have been special was a nice feeling. I did play very well today, and it's always nice to have 65 to show for that."
The group at 4 under included Canadian David Hearn and another perennial major contender, Lee Westwood, who had no bogeys in his round of 66. Three weeks after coughing up a final-round lead at the British Open, Westwood has gotten off to a fast start, like Furyk and Scott.
"You try and base your year around the major championships," Westwood said. "So it's nice to play well when you're coming into it."