Finally, Furyk finds elusive victory No. 17

By Nick MentaApril 19, 2015, 7:13 pm

It took four and a half years, 100 starts and ultimately two extra holes, but Jim Furyk finally broke through.

The 44-year-old ended his PGA Tour winless drought Sunday, firing an 8-under 63 and going  birdie-birdie in a playoff to beat Kevin Kisner and win the RBC Heritage.

When that final putt, a 12-footer for birdie on the second playoff hole, mercifully fell, Furyk dropped his putter and pumped his fists. He looked more enraged than happy, more combative than celebratory.

"That was four and a half years of frustration in that celebration," he said.

At least this time there was a celebration.

A lot has changed in the golf world since a backwards-hatted Furyk closed out the 2010 Tour Championship and FedEx Cup in the rain at East Lake.

Jordan Spieth wasn't even in college back then. The United States still held the Ryder Cup. Rory McIlroy had yet to win a major. Tiger Woods was trying to rebound from injury, overhaul his swing and claim his 15th major. (OK, bad example.)

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In between victories, Furyk made 99 Tour starts. He recorded 31 top-10s. He blew nine - nine - 54-hole leads, including one earlier this year at Pebble Beach. He finished runner-up seven times. He represented the United States in international competition four times. He went from fifth to 61st to as high as third in the Official World Golf Ranking. Not including his FedEx Cup payouts, he collected $14.8 million.

And he did it all with a whopping zero victories.

Even after nine final-round birdies – those have tended to elude Furyk on Sundays - he looked as if he was going to fall short again by the narrowest of margins. Kisner made birdie on the 72nd green to force a playoff and then poured in another on the first extra hole.

After holding a three-shot lead with three holes to play, Furyk was faced with a 7-footer just to stay alive. After every close call, after every disappointment, the stage was set for another heartbreak, another near-miss to add to a lengthy list.

But this time, in spite of the bevy of negative thoughts no doubt running through his head, Furyk found the bottom of the cup. One hole later, on the 17th green, he did it again, closing out Kisner, dropping his putter and typically stoic demeanor, and letting out a well-earned yell.

"I've let so many slide by,” he admitted. “I really kind of dug deep today, and I got it done."

Harbour Town is as fitting a place for Furyk to return to the winner's circle as any. Even when he won his lone major championship at the U.S. Open in 2003, he was far from a long hitter. By today's standards he's woefully short - 192nd in driving distance at an average of 275 yards. Of course, all the length in the world doesn't do much good on a tight track that demands players stay on the straight and narrow.

It's how Furyk has played his entire career. It's how he's competed with kids half his age out-driving him by 50 yards. And It's why he's won now twice on Hilton Head.

“Outside of a major championship," he said, "this is my favorite event - my favorite course."

Even more so now.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.