PHOENIX — Jim Furyk’s tee shot at Phoenix Country Club’s par-3 15th hole just cleared a bunker, nearly went into the hole and settled 3 feet away.
As the former University of Arizona star walked up to the green, fans in the skyboxes serenaded him with the fight song from his alma mater. Furyk doffed his cap and waved again after holing the birdie putt.
Another round like this and he could be doing it again on Sunday — with the Schwab Cup in his hands.
Furyk shot a 6-under 65 on Saturday to take the third-round lead in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, putting him in position to win the PGA Tour Champions season points title.
“I got myself in a good position,” Furyk said. “I don’t know where it will be compared to the lead, but if I give myself a good opportunity and I go out, if I play a good one tomorrow, have a chance to win the tournament.”
Furyk has been comfortable all week at Phoenix Country Club, less than two hours from where he was a two-time All-American at Arizona.
He started the round three behind leader Kirk Triplett and quickly made up ground with an eagle on the par-5 first hole at Phoenix Country Club. Playing with fan favorite and Arizona State alum Phil Mickelson, Furyk heard plenty of ASU chants during his round, but got the nice serenade from Arizona fans after his near ace on No. 15.
Furyk closed out his day by getting up-and-down for par on the par-5 18th for a bogey-free round that put at 16 under — one ahead of Triplett, who shot 69. Furyk can win his first Schwab Cup with a victory or with a high finish and if Bernard Langer falters.
“Today really just wanted to go out and play a really solid round,” Furyk said. “The scores are low, but you still have to be patient.”
Langer, who’s been battling back pain all weekend, bookended his third round with eagles for a bogey-free 63 to remain in the hunt for his sixth Schwab Cup. He was 10 under, six off the lead heading into the final round Sunday.
Stephen Ames shot 65 to reach 14 under and was tied with New Zealander Steven Alker, a qualifier less than four months ago who shot 68. Mickelson was another shot back after a 68. Furyk won the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields, was the 2010 FedExCup champion and won 17 times on the PGA Tour. The 51-year-old has won three times since joining the PGA Tour Champions tour last year, including the U.S. Senior Open in July.
Furyk has a chance add to his résumé after a steady first three days at the Schwab Cup Championship. He has three bogeys through 54 holes and had four birdies to go with his eagle in Saturday’s round.
Langer played through intense pain to shoot an opening 68, then overcame more pain and three shots into penalty areas for a second-round 72.
Trailing Triplett by 11 shots, the 64-year-old German was feeling somewhat better in the third round, even if it was a strain to bend down to his ball.
Langer opened with an eagle on the par-5 first hole and added two birdies on his front nine. He had birdies on Nos. 10 and 17, then closed his round by making a roughly 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th.
Langer’s low round — one less than his age — puts him in the hunt for a fifth Schwab Cup in seven years.
“It’s one of my best rounds ever, under the circumstances, for sure,” Langer said. “Played very solid.
“Finally found the groove with the driver and hit some good iron shots as well.”
Triplett was unable to back up his second-round 64 with another low round, finishing with four birdies and two bogeys.
Alker had no status after turning 50 in July and qualified for the Boeing Classic in August. He got on a roll, stringing together top-10 finishes every week to keep playing and become eligible for the postseason, including a win last weekend at the TimberTech Championship in Florida.
Alker followed up a second-round 66 with four birdies and a bogey on Saturday.