Furyk returns to winner's circle with RBC victory

By Associated PressApril 19, 2015, 8:03 pm

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - Jim Furyk had gone 100 starts without winning, a stretch that gnawed at his psyche and challenged his confidence.

That all disappeared in uncharacteristic fashion Sunday when he won his first PGA Tour title in five years with birdies on both playoff holes to outlast Kevin Kisner at the RBC Heritage. When the winning putt fell on the par-3 17th, the typically reserved Furyk dropped his putter and punched the air.

"I think getting excited on 17 there was a lot of pent-up frustrations," he said.

Furyk won for the second time at the RBC Heritage, the other coming in 2010 in what turned out to be the best year of his career. He won two other events, including the Tour Championship, and captured the $10 million FedEx Cup.

Furyk won the 2003 U.S. Open and entered this tournament ranked 10th in the world, but he has struggled to close out events. He was 0-for-9 when leading tournaments after three rounds since that Tour Championship victory. He is 44 and always believed he'd win again.

"But I was starting to feel like this game is beating me up, and the losing hurts a lot more than winning feels good," he said. "I think I just forget how good" it feels to win.

With that came a $1.062 million payday. For Kisner, it was his best finish on the PGA Tour.


RBC Heritage: Articles, videos and photos


Furyk led by a stroke when Kisner birdied the 72nd hole to force the playoff, the fourth in the last six tournaments at Harbour Town Golf Links. On the first extra hole, Kisner rolled in a second straight birdie putt on the 18th. But Furyk answered with a birdie to keep the playoff going. After Kisner missed his birdie try on No. 17, Furyk sank a 12-foot putt for his 17th career PGA Tour victory.

Furyk shot a 63 and Kisner a 64, leaving them both at 18-under 266. Third-round leader Troy Merritt was at 16 under after a 69. Defending champion Matt Kuchar (68) was at 14 under and Masters winner Jordan Spieth (70) was eight shots back.

It was an odd tournament for Furyk.

He looked as if he'd get left behind early, making 18 pars in the first round to fall five shots back. Furyk found his game Friday with eight birdies on the way to a 64. He had a 68 Saturday, yet knew he needed to fire himself as he did Friday to have a chance.

Boy, did he ever.

Furyk had six birdies on his first nine holes, including a 48-footer on the par-4 eighth that moved him in front. A bogey on the 11th dropped Furyk into a four-way tie for first, but he responded with birdies on three of the next four holes and seemed set for an easy ride.

When his long putt on No. 8 rolled in, Furyk said he began to think "this may be the day." Kisner, though, chased him down on the back nine. He birdied the 14th and 15th to pull within a stroke and stuck his approach on the signature lighthouse hole at No. 18 within 7 feet for a tying birdie.

Kisner kissed his wife, Brittany, and 10-month-old daughter Kathleen on the way to the scoring trailer to prepare for more golf.

Furyk is used to such grinding at Harbour Town. When he won in 2010, Brian Davis tied him on the final hole to force a playoff - won by Furyk when Davis struck a loose impediment on his swing and called a penalty on himself.

Kisner expected Furyk, who made 11 birdies in 20 holes, to tie him after his putt on the first playoff hole.

"You don't expect a guy of Jim's caliber to miss a 6-footer straight up the hill," Kisner said.

Merritt fell to third after a third 69. His other score was a course-record-tying 61 in the second round Friday. Merritt couldn't keep up with Furyk's charge and lost his chance after hitting out of bounds on No. 12 and taking double bogey. Merritt made up for it a few holes later with an eagle-2 on No. 16.

Spieth closed an amazing five-tournament stretch. He won the Valspar Championship a month ago and followed that with seconds at the Texas and Houston opens before matching Tigers Woods' record of 18 under at Augusta National. For Spieth, 19 of his past 20 rounds have been under par.

Spieth had a whirlwind media tour in New York on Monday and Tuesday before arriving at Hilton Head. Now the 21-year-old Texan wants to get back to Dallas in time to attend the Academy of Country Music Awards. He'll return to golf in two weeks at the World Golf Championship Match Play event.

Divots: Tom Watson finally played like his age, the 65-year-old finishing with a 5-over 76 after making the cut at Harbour Town with a birdie on the 18th hole Friday. Watson says playing tour courses is taking a toll on "this old body." ... Golfers went off in groups of three on the first and 10th tees starting at 7:30 a.m. to beat expected stormy weather later in the day.

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.