It might not have been the pretty finish that many a story is written about but Jim Furyk did what was necessary Sunday to return to the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour.
Furyk, winless since the 2007 RBC Canadian Open, earned his 14th career PGA Tour victory at the Transitions Championship by showing great resolve, especially on the putting surfaces. His 271 total (-13) was just enough to keep him ahead of charging K.J. Choi (272) and Bubba Watson (273).
With a multiple stroke lead through part of the day Furyk stayed on point and made some critical putts when he had to, both for birdies and pars. His biggest bauble came on 18 after an errant tee shot. From a sketchy lie in the right woods he hit an uncharacteristic approach that he even called “pretty stupid” immediately after the round.
“The nerves got me, honestly,” said what looked like a very relieved Furyk to NBC right after he holed out the winning putt.
It is hard to believe a player of Furyk’s stature would feel nervous about winning a regular PGA Tour event but it just goes to show you how much it meant to him to get back to his winning ways.
Furyk, who will turn 40 in May, is in his 17th season on the PGA Tour and is hardly used to going more than 2 years without a win. That is not to say he has not had a few chances in the last 58 official PGA Tour events since Sunday, July 29, 2007 when he defended his RBC Canadian Open Championship. He has piled up 20 top-tens in that time and won almost (USD) $4 million last year alone. But money does not replace wins for successful PGA Tour pros and that was certainly the case for Furyk, the 2003 US Open Champion.
That is not to say he will not enjoy the $972,000 for today’s win but the chance to hold a real trophy again (Furyk won the unofficial Chevron World Challenge last December) was what he was really seeking.
Furyk started the day with a three-stroke lead and when he finally got to tee it up after a multi-hour weather delay he showed he wanted to stay on top. After Choi pressed him with a fury of opening birdies Furyk responded with his own on the 8th, 11th, and 12th hole to re-establish his three-stroke margin. Bogeys on 13, 15, and 18 were not enough to keep him from his goal.
Sadly Furyk’s win became a bit of afterthought Sunday with the announcement and airing of Tiger Woods interviews on ESPN and Golf Channel just as he finished up on the Copperhead course but the newly minted tour winner did not care that his win might be overshadowed in the news on Monday. “I won the damn thing, and it really doesn’t matter to me,” he said regarding the subject.
Furyk looked very intense this week at Innisbrook (inc. photo taken Tuesday during a long range session) and struck the ball with determination. Even his competitors noticed a renewed focus in his play. K.J. Choi, who actually tied him early in the round, was impressed. “You know, I felt like if I shot 4-under or better, you know, I could go into a playoff, or even come up with a win. But you know; my hat is off to Jim. He just played very well today. It's probably the best round of golf I've seen him play recently, and he putted great, too.”
The champ did play well and he did so on a very difficult course; one the players really respect. It added up to a satisfying result. “There isn’t a player on this course that wouldn’t call this a top-ten course on tour,” said Furyk who added that it was one of the reasons why the event attracted such a good field. “I’m proud of the fact that this was played on a pretty tough against some pretty good players.”
With the win Jim Furyk should move to 6th in the Official World Golf Rankings and leaps from 84th to 7th in the FedEx Cup standings.
He is in the field for the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard next week at Bay Hill in Orlando.
This report provided to GolfWRX.com by Flagstick Golf Magazine (www.flagstick.com)