Furyk in position to end lengthy victory drought


Much has transpired in the world of golf since Sept. 26, 2010.

Rory McIlroy has won four majors. Tiger Woods has come back, reached No. 1 and faded again. Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed have all won multiple tournaments, becoming household names in the process.

For Jim Furyk, though, that date remains the last time he left a PGA Tour event with a trophy. He actually won two that day, capturing both the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup title at East Lake.

More than four years later, Furyk's win total remains stuck at 16, but he is in position to end the drought. He carries a one-shot lead over Brandt Snedeker and Matt Jones into the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am after a 9-under 63 Saturday on the host course.

This will be the ninth time Furyk has held at least a share of the 54-hole lead since his last victory. Each of the last eight attempts failed to yield a win, his most recent disappointment coming at The Barclays last August when he finished eighth. At age 44, Furyk is coming off one of his best seasons on Tour: 11 top-10 finishes in 21 starts, including four runner-ups and nearly $6 million in earnings while climbing inside the top 10 in the world rankings.

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But the winner's circle has remained elusive. He finished second in back-to-back weeks last year at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players, and he appeared in position for a win at the RBC Canadian Open before he stalled out on the back nine during the final round and watched Tim Clark pass him with a flurry of birdies.

While even elite players sometimes need to shake off rust to begin a new season, this week Furyk has had no such issue. He hasn't played competitively since the Ryder Cup, nearly five months ago, and his last stroke-play result came at the Tour Championship in September, where he tied for second. Furyk opened this week with a bogey-free 64 at Monterey Peninsula, and despite the lengthy offseason he has made only two bogeys through his first 54 holes.

He will wear a target during the final round at Pebble Beach, though, one that has proved burdensome in recent years. Furyk's final-round stroke average when holding at least a share of the lead has been 70.25 since his last victory, nearly a full stroke higher than his average under the same circumstances from 1994-2010.

With weather conditions expected to remain ideal for Sunday's conclusion at Pebble Beach, Furyk will likely need at least a sub-70 effort to fend off a group of contenders that includes Snedeker, a winner at Pebble Beach just two years ago, and Jones, who captured the Shell Houston Open the last time he sniffed contention on Tour.

The game's top names often repeat a similar rhetoric: Just give me a chance to win come Sunday. Furyk has seen plenty of those opportunities go for naught in recent years, each near-miss accruing a bit more scar tissue for the amiable veteran to overcome. Despite the battle wounds, Furyk has once again played his way into the top spot with one round to go, hoping to close out a win that by all measures appears to be long overdue.