Rushing up alongside was Joe Durant, who eagled the first, birdied the second, dropped a clutch 12-footer for par on the third, then made birdie on the fourth. That told everyone he was in the game with the big boys. Then he slammed it into overdrive, firing a remarkable 65 on a windy day more suited for sea gulls than golfers. That was more than enough to win the Genuity Championship Sunday.
Durant did this somewhat backwards. On Thursday and Friday, when golfers were carving up Doral like so much Swiss cheese, Durant shot a quiet 68 and 70. On the weekend, though, when Doral?s infamous winds began swirling, Durant acted like he had found his niche. He shot 12-under-par for the weekend, his 67-65 earning him a two-shot win over Weir. While everyone else had fits trying to decipher the two- to three-club gusts, Durant found he was right at home.
'It's a dream come true for me,' said Durant. 'I have always wanted to play the Tour since I was seven years old. To have played this well this year is beyond anything I would have imagined, to be quite honest.
'I felt like I was good enough to win out here, but until you do it, you never know. But the last couple of weeks have been just unbelievable for me.'
Durant became the first multiple winner of the year with the victory at Doral. It followed by two weeks his win at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. Since he didn't play at the Nissan Open last week, it was the second win in succession for Durant, who lives in Molino, Fl., near Pensacola.
The first hole should have been a tipoff that Durant was up to something. He eagled the par-5 hole with a driver, 6-iron and a 15-foot putt. He birdied No. 2 with another 15-footer and dropped a 30-foot bomb on the field on No. 4.
Durant was still two shots behind Weir after both birdied the par-5 8th, but Durant slowly tightened the noose on the par-3 9th when the Canadian bogeyed. And Durant was absolutely relentless on the back, tying for the lead when Weir followed No. 9 with a bogey on the par-5 10th. Durant finally grabbed the lead with a birdie at the par-5 12th and amassed a three-stroke advantage until he finally bogeyed the final hole with a three-putt bogey, his first slip the final 36 holes.
Obviously, Joe played a phenomenal round of golf today in those conditions, said a disappointed Weir. Sixty-five is a hell of a score. My hat is off to him. He played a great round of golf.
Durant sees just one difference in his game putting. He's hitting the same shots the same length in approximately the same place. But the ball is going into the cup now.
My stats probably aren't that much different these weeks from other weeks, but the putts have gone in versus rimming out or three-putting or not getting up-and-down, he said.
Seems the last two tournaments, the times I needed to get up-and-down to keep a round going, I have been able to do that. I have made a lot of eight- to 20-footers, whereas that is the distance I usually struggle with. I usually am a good short putter, but that range of putt I don't tend to make that many of. I have just made a bunch of them the last two weeks.
The win vaults Durant over Davis Love III into first place in the PGA Tour money standings. He also had to finish first or second this week to get into the Masters, and his win does that for him, too.
The Masters, he admits, was the furthest thing from his mind three weeks ago before his win at the Bob Hope. He didn't have a flicker of hope before then. 'Absolutely not,' said Durant. 'I was trying to get into the top 70 and Bay Hill. I am serious. I was. That is what I was shooting for on the West Coast. That's just strange how things can happen.'
News, Notes and Numbers
*With his victory, Joe Durant moves to 11th on the 2001 Ryder Cup points list.
*Stephen Ames withdrew from the event early in the fourth round Sunday. Ames was handling a duffle bag Saturday night when he pulled a rib muscle. He tried to play, but withdrew after six holes.
Click here for Joe Durant's interview transript!
See Full-Field scores from the Genuity Championship here.
More Information on the Florida Swing.