Morning Digest: Furyk vs. Mickelson, Justin Thomas’ moral


Phil Mickelson is always a crowd favorite, but who isn’t pulling for Jim Furyk today in the battle of 48-year-olds?

Furyk grabbed our attention two weeks ago at The Players, where he shot a 5-under 67 on Sunday to finish runner-up behind Rory McIlroy. “I haven’t put myself in the heat with a really good opportunity to win a golf tournament in a while, and I missed it,” Furyk said at the time.

Clearly Furyk is on a roll. Wednesday he birdied the last two holes to beat Jason Day 2-up in their opening match of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin. According to Australian media reports, Day was still struggling with his bad back.

Part of the reason fans love to see Furyk thriving is because he’s an old guy by Tour standards. And then there’s his demeanor, which makes you kind of forget he’s won more than $70 million in career earnings. “I’m standing on the 15th tee all square, kind of pinching myself. Here I am playing Jason Day at the Match Play, and I wasn’t even supposed to be here,” Furyk said after his win against Day, who’s No. 13 in the OWGR.

Before the matches began, Furyk was asked if he knew what it would take to qualify for the Masters by Monday’s deadline. Currently No. 54 in the world rankings, he needs to get into the top 50 for an invitation to Augusta National.

“I try not to focus on what I have to do to make the Masters,” he said Tuesday. “I know that I have to play well. I know that my pool is very difficult … It will be difficult to get through that pool and my focus is really on playing well and my game and doing what I can do, what I can control.”

Next up: Mickelson at 11:59 a.m. ET

Here are Thursday’s featured matches on PGA Tour Live:

Bubba Watson vs. Billy Horschel, 11:04

Jordan Spieth vs. Kevin Na, 11:15

Tiger Woods vs Brandt Snedeker, 12:32 p.m.

In the fairway: There’s still a chance

In the “Group of Death” or Group 12, it’s Furyk and Henrik Stenson with 1-0 records. Day and Mickelson are 0-1.

Since 2015, only eight players have lost their opening matches and rallied to get out of group play.

None did it last year. In 2017, Ross Fisher, Bill Haas, Charles Howell III and Zach Johnson advanced after starting 0-1.

On the green: JT moves #onward

Golf is fun, even when it doesn’t seem like it. That’s our takeaway from Justin Thomas, who isn’t afraid to poke fun at himself on Twitter. He lost to Lucas Bjerregaard 3 and 2.

On the couch: Golf on TV

Here’s the schedule today:

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

Golf Channel: 2-8 p.m.

Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship (PGA Tour)

Golf Channel: 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Kia Classic (LPGA)

Golf Channel: 7-9 p.m.

Hero Indian Open (European Tour)

Golf Channel: 1:30-3:30 a.m. (Friday), 5:30-8:30 a.m. (Thursday and Friday)

Chip shots

Danielle Kang makes her first start since the LPGA returned stateside at the Kia Classic in Carlsbad. She’s out with Minjee Lee and Brooke Henderson. … Eleven of the 12 European Ryder Cup players who appeared at Le Golf National won their matches Wednesday in Austin. Alex Noren was the only player to fall, losing to Haotong Li 5 and 4. … After finishing last in Punta Cana last year, Tony Romo tees off with Kramer Hickok and Denny McCarthy at 8:10 a.m.

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