World Challenge joy for Furyk
Jim Furyk ended his season with a first victory in 28 months as he captured the Chevron World Challenge in California.
Jim Furyk was delighted to bring a 28-month winless streak to an end when he held off a strong European bid to win the Chevron World Challenge in California on Sunday.
The American Ryder Cup star, with more than USD4 million (£2.42million) in prize money in 2009 without having won a title on the PGA Tour, saved his best until last.
Furyk shot a closing, five-under-par 67 to reach 13 under par to win by a stroke from Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell in the 18-player tournament at Sherwood Country Club near Los Angeles.
“It’s bothered me, I’d be lying if I said otherwise,” Furyk said of going winless since the 2007 Canadian Open.
“That’s your goal every year, to go out there and win and I haven’t been able to do it in two full seasons on the tour.
“Hopefully this will be a stepping stone. You get one (win) under your belt and hopefully I can keep it going next year.”
Tiger Woods, who hosts this event each year to benefit his foundation, had withdrawn from the tournament last Monday – citing the injuries sustained in the much-publicised car crash outside his Florida home the previous Friday.
McDowell proved to be the lucky benefactor of Woods’ strife, earning a last-minute invitation as the world number one’s replacement in the tournament. The Northern Irishman was second, a shot behind Furyk.
With the tournament carrying world ranking points for the first time, Furyk’s victory will send him into the top 10 while McDowell catapulted from 55th to 38th and earned an invitation to next year’s Masters.
Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and European number one Lee Westwood of England claimed a tie for third a further stroke away from Furyk on 11 under, while Ian Poulter was in a four-way tie for fifth on nine under alongside Americans Stewart Cink, Zach Johnson and Sean O’Hair.
Furyk had started the day at eight under, two shots behind overnight leaders McDowell and Y E Yang of Korea.
He was leading at 12 under with two holes to play but found the large bunker in front of the par-three 17th and was staring at bogey when he laid up on the large green.
The American had other ideas and sank the long par putt to stay in the lead.
Westwood birdied the 17th for a share of the lead at 12 under only for Furyk to then birdie the last for a second consecutive, five-under-par 67 to move back into the outright lead at 13 under.
In the final group, McDowell had birdied the 16th to get to 11 under but missed a birdie opportunity on 17, leaving Westwood with the most realistic chance of catching Furyk.
The Englishman, needing a birdie to tie, left his second shot from the middle of the fairway pushed up against the right fringe of the green.
Needing to hope out to force a play-off, Westwood caught a break when he asked for a ruling on an unplayable stance caused by a recessed sprinkler head and after a lengthy discussion with an official won a drop.
That left him still up against the longer grass but able to putt instead of chip – although Westwood’s effort was pushed wide and left with a short par putt, he missed and had to settle for a 70 at 11 under.
That left McDowell as the only man left able to tie with Furyk and he nearly pulled it off, sending his second shot to within two feet of the hole. It was not enough, however, to prevent Furyk picking up his first win of the year.
McDowell explained: “I was certainly playing nothing-to-lose golf this weekend.
“I just felt fortunate to be here anyway, so I really was going out today just trying to play as well as I possibly could and see where that left me.
“The set-up birdie at the last was probably pretty big from a world rankings point of view.”
Harrington experienced a real see-saw round – a birdie at the last giving him a final round 70 which left him 11 under.
Overnight co-leader Yang, the US PGA champion, fell away with a two-over 74 to finish eight under while England’s Paul Casey shook off the rust after more than three months suffering with a rib injury to shoot the low round of the week, a 64, to finish on six under par.
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