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Bunker save worth $10 million to Furyk

ATLANTA — One clutch shot gave Jim Furyk two big trophies.

He sat between them Sunday afternoon after his dramatic victory in the rain at East Lake, the crystal trophy for the Tour Championship on his left and the sterling silver FedEx Cup trophy on his right.

Which one meant more?

Furyk gently tapped the silver cup, which might be more valuable than the $10 million that comes with it.

Clinging to a one-shot lead, in a bunker so deep he could see only the top of the lip, Furyk hit a clean shot and watched it head for the flag. It landed inches from the cup and spun to a stop 2½ feet away for an easy par and a one-shot victory over Luke Donald.

Furyk had finally won the Tour Championship, giving him three victories in a season for the first time. He stated a strong case — three wins and FedEx Cup champion — as PGA Tour player of the year.

Maybe that explains why his stoic demeanor gave way to a celebration never before seen out of Furyk.

"It just hit me," said Furyk, who closed with par 70. "I was excited and dropped the putter and … I don't know. I guess at that moment, you're not really responsible for what happens next."

The 40-year-old thrust his fist toward the grandstand with such force that it looked as if he heaved his golf ball into the crowd. And he shared a hug with his wife, Tabitha, asking her, "Did I win the bonus?"

Furyk had a pretty good idea when he walked off the 18th tee, and the cheer when he tapped in confirmed it.

It was the kind of finish the PGA Tour had in mind when it created the FedEx Cup four years ago. Six players had a chance to claim the $10 million prize over the final hour at East Lake, from Matt Kuchar as the top seed to Nick Watney all the way down at No. 28.

Then came the final hole.

Donald chipped in for birdie from 100 feet on the 17th to keep his hopes alive. Furyk, who had a three-shot lead with three holes to play, made bogey on 16 and 17 and hit his hybrid into a bunker on the 18th. If he made bogey, Furyk and Donald would go back to the 230-yard 18th hole for a sudden-death playoff with $11.35 million riding on the outcome.

Then came a bunker shot that defined a career worth of grit. Furyk was in a bunker nine times at East Lake and saved par every time.

Donald didn't bother going to the range. He waited in the scoring trailer.

"I didn't feel like going out in the rain and drowning myself even more," Donald said. "So I was just watching the action, seeing if there was a chance I was going to get in a playoff. But Jim made a great up-and-down at the last and deserved the victory."

Furyk finished at 8-under 272 and earned $1.35 million, along with the $10 million bonus, the biggest payoff in golf. He moved to No.  5 in the world ranking.

Furyk was the No. 3 seed when the playoffs began but was disqualified from the opener when he missed his pro-am time at the Barclays because the battery died in his cell phone, which he used for an alarm. He was No. 11 going into the Tour Championship and became the first player out of the top 10 to win the cup.

CHAMPIONS: Russ Cochran won his second straight tour title and second in his career, shooting 1-under 71 for a two-stroke victory over Tom Pernice Jr. in the SAS Championship in Cary, N.C.

Cochran, 51, became the third wire-to-wire winner in tournament history, finishing at 14-under 202 on the Prestonwood Country Club course.

"I'm not used to a big lead, so I didn't know what to expect," he said. "I found out that you just need to play well regardless."

Bunker save worth $10 million to Furyk 09/26/10 [Last modified: Sunday, September 26, 2010 8:57pm]
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