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After rain, Jim Furyk ends drought with win at Transitions Championship

PALM HARBOR — There have been more significant wins. There have been better finishes. But after a 21/2-year winless drought, Jim Furyk's victory Sunday at the Transitions Championship looks pretty good.

Furyk endured a nearly four-hour weather delay, as well as a shaky 18th hole, to win the tournament by one shot over K.J. Choi and two over Bubba Watson. Furyk shot 2-under 69 on Innisbrook's Copperhead Course to finish at 13-under 271, the first time a winner has been double digits under par since 2007.

It is the 14th victory in Furyk's 17-year career but his first since the 2007 Canadian Open.

"I never doubted I would win again," Furyk said. "I feel like I have a lot of golf left in me. I've been really disappointed in myself that I haven't won. It bothered me a lot."

Furyk certainly had to work for his victory.

He started the day with a three-shot lead, but that was gone by the sixth hole. Furyk bogeyed the par-3 fourth hole while Choi birdied the par-5 fifth and par-4 sixth that tied them at 12 under.

And it looked as if the two would be locked in match play the rest of the day.

But Furyk birdied the par-3 eighth hole while Choi bogeyed. He never lost the lead, although there were some scary moments.

Clinging to a two-shot lead on the par-3 17th hole, Furyk pushed his tee shot into the right bunkers. His sand shot nestled within 8 feet, and Furyk made the tricky putt to preserve his two-shot lead.

"Going into the 18th hole with a two-shot lead was a pretty big deal," Furyk said.

He needed every bit of it.

Furyk faded his drive into the pine straw and trees on the 18th. His second shot nearly hit spectators as he was trying to punch it back into the fairway.

"I basically half shanked it," he said.

He left his third shot 26 feet from the hole but was able to roll the putt to within inches for a tap-in bogey. That was enough to hold off Choi, who made par.

"It turned out great," Furyk said. "But it could have turned out very, very bad.

"It seemed any time (Sunday) K.J. got close or any time I had one of those mistakes I was able to bounce right back. I'd hit some really good shots or make a bunch of birdies and get some distance."

Choi certainly made it interesting. He birdied four of the first six holes and ended with 4-under 67. He won this tournament in 2002 and 2006 and knew what he needed for a third win on the Copperhead Course.

"I thought maybe 4 under or better would be good enough to win or at least for a playoff," Choi said. "My hat's off the Jim. He played very well (Sunday). It was probably the best round of golf I've seen him play recently."

Another player who made a run was Watson. He shot 3-under 68 and got to within a shot of the lead in the middle of the round. Watson, who is winless in his five-year PGA career, finished at 11-under 273, two shots back.

"I was down three starting the day, and I tried to make a charge," Watson said. "I just didn't make anything coming down the stretch."

It was going to take a low round to catch Furyk. He made only five bogeys all week, and three of them came on the back nine Sunday. All four of his rounds were in the 60s, and his putting was above average. He needed only 28 putts Sunday.

While he admits there were some nerves coming down the stretch, Furyk is just satisfied to know that at age 39 he can still win on the PGA Tour.

"I wish I would have stamped it out in the center of the 17th and 18th greens and got it out there in style," Furyk said. "But my family tells me I never do that. I make it interesting, and once again I did."

Rodney Page can be reached at page@sptimes.com.

Leaderboard

To
1234Tot.par

1. Jim Furyk67686769271-13

2. K.J. Choi69696767272-12

3. Bubba Watson70657068273-11

4. Nick Watney73706567275-9

5. Retief Goosen67687071276-8

After rain, Jim Furyk ends drought with win at Transitions Championship 03/21/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 5:23pm]
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