Whippersnappers Beware: Furyk and Elkington are right behind you

Whippersnappers Beware: Furyk and Elkington are right behind you

Jim Furyk, top, and Steve Elkington have an advantage in experience, if not length off the tee.
John Biever/SI (Furyk); Fred Vuich/SI (Elkington)

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — Jason Day wasn't yet born when Steve Elkington first came to the University of Houston to help the Cougars win two NCAA Championships in the early 1980s. And Day figures he was watching Sesame Street when Elkington won the 1995 PGA Championship at L.A.'s Riviera Country Club.

So Day, 22, was surprised to hear the news after he shot a 66 to get to nine under at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Elkington, 47, had shot 67 and was just one behind him.

"Really? Wow, I did not know that," Day said. "Yeah, there you go. (Laughter) It's a good mix this week."

Also at eight under was Jim Furyk, 40, who shot 70.

Elkington and Furyk account for just about the only sunspots and male-pattern baldness on a peach-fuzzy leaderboard.

They are tied for seventh, five shots behind Nick Watney, 29. They are two behind Dustin Johnson (67) and Rory McIlroy (67), whose combined ages (26 plus 21) equal Elkington's.

And they were just one behind Day, 25-year-old German Martin Kaymer (67) and 32-year-old Wenchong Liang of China, who took only 23 putts and set the course record with a 64.

The old guard is mostly looking old at this PGA.

Phil Mickelson, 40, revealed earlier this week that he is fighting a form of potentially chronic arthritis. He shot another 73 Saturday to drop to one under.

Padraig Harrington, 38, didn't even get that far, making double-bogey on 18 to miss the weekend rounds by a shot.

Tom Lehman, 51, aced the 223-yard, par-3 17th hole, the ninth hole-in-one of his professional career, but still carded a ho-hum 73 and was tied for 60th place.

But there were Elkington and Furyk, making a stand for the 40-something demo that check their prostates more regularly than their Twitter accounts.

When Elkington won his first tournament, the 1990 Kmart Greater Greensboro Open, Day was 2. But on Saturday, playing amid the distractions that come with being grouped with Tiger Woods, Elk reeled off four straight birdies to start his back nine.

"I played with all of these No. 1s, you know — I got like a book of them," said Elkington, who's been surprisingly long off the tee this week (T15 in driving distance) and uncorked a 278-yard 3-wood that reached the green on the par-5 16th Saturday.

"I played with Jack and Arnold and Greg Norman and Faldo," he continued. "For me, I can't wait to get into that group, because I want to see what they're doing. I've always thought it brings the best golf out of you."

Furyk, who spent the afternoon in the company of Matt Kuchar (73) and Watney, is 71st in driving distance this week. No matter. Ever the tactician, he's played the par-4s in seven under. Johnson and Watney, who will play in the final twosome at 1:35 local time Sunday, have each played the par-5s in nine under.

Hey, it's sports. You go with your strengths. But to further put the age gap into perspective, Furyk is about the same age as Tour veteran Omar Uresti. Watney is dating Uresti's niece, Amber.

Furyk can spin a basketball on his index finger; Dustin Johnson can dunk.

The old guard could teach the young guys a few things, if the young guys would ask. Furyk could teach Bubba Watson not to reach for his driver on every hole. Elkington, who had sinus surgery in 1994, could share the experience with Day, who has been plagued by a sinus infection that's lasted eight months.

With two Tour victories already this year, Furyk would make a strong case for Player of the Year with a win Sunday. He birdied four of his first five holes when second-round play resumed in the morning; his third round ended when he missed a short putt and bogeyed 18 in twilight.

Elkington is after his first victory since the 1999 Doral-Ryder Open. That was before that tournament had morphed into a "WGC," before the World Golf Championship events even existed. He was asked if he was enjoying being in the mix again.

"Yeah, it's good," said Elkington, who last contended at the 2005 PGA at Baltusrol, where he wound up tied for second place. "Those [young] guys get in the way a little bit, there's a lot of them, but yeah, I'll be around there somewhere."

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