Furyk back in winner’s circle
Jim Furyk showed the nerves of a player trying to win for the first time on the PGA Tour. Considering how long it had been since his last victory, it felt that way.
Furyk closed with a 2-under-par 69 yesterday for a one-shot victory over K.J. Choi in the Transitions Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla., his first victory since the 2007 Canadian Open to end his longest winless stretch since he first joined the tour 16 years ago.
He did just enough right on the back nine of Innisbrook that he could afford a few mistakes down the stretch, and he nearly made a whopper.
With a two-shot lead on the 18th hole of the Copperhead course, Furyk drove into the trees, nearly took out NBC reporter Roger Maltbie with his next shot, and needed a good lag from 30 feet to secure a bogey.
Furyk finished at 13-under 271 and won for the 14th time in his career, moving to No. 6 in the world.
“I have a habit of making it tough on myself,’’ said Furyk, who had gone 58 tour events without a win. “Just nerves got me, to be honest with you.’’
Choi, who started three shots off the lead, was tied with Furyk through seven holes until a two-shot swing on the par-3 eighth. Choi never got any closer until the final hole. He closed with a 4-under 67, but his runner-up finish should be enough to move him to No. 47 in the world and give him a good chance to get into the Masters.
Bubba Watson, who has never won on the PGA or Nationwide tours, also gave Furyk a good run and was within two shots throughout the back nine during a final round that had nearly six hours of weather delays.
Watson played without a bogey until the par-3 15th, when he came up short of the green, chipped over the green and dropped a crucial shot. He made pars the rest of the way for a 68, finishing alone in third.
Nick Watney had a 67 and was fourth, while defending champion Retief Goosen was another shot back after a 71.
European — Rhys Davies earned his first tour title, winning the Trophee Hassan II in Rabat, Morocco, by two strokes over Louis Oosthuizen (70) after shooting a 7-under 66.
Davies bogeyed the second hole, but then had eight birdies in 11 holes on the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course to finish at 25-under 266.
Thomas Levet, Ignacio Garrido, Mikko Ilonen, and Thomas Aiken were tied for third at 18 under.