Furyk Fights Way to Mercedes Title

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Rory Sabbatini missed a two-foot birdie putt to force a playoff, thus giving Jim Furyk his sixth career PGA Tour title at the Mercedes Championships in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii.
 
Furyk comments on his Mercedes Championships win.
 
Playing in the group in front of Sabbatini's, Furyk made a 10-foot birdie putt to take a one-shot lead at 18-under-par, and then watched in surprise as Sabbatini failed to convert a birdie putt of his own from less than half that distance.
 

'I feel bad for him,' said Furyk, who shot a 5-under-par 67 to overcome a four-stroke deficit as the day began. 'It was a tricky putt. It's not the way you want to see things happen, but I'm also happy for myself.'
 
This is Furyk's second win in the Aloha State. He also captured the 1996 United Airlines Hawaiian Open. Furyk claims the $630,000 first-place check in his first event since injuring his wrist late last year.
 
Winning in the wind and coming from behind seem to be Furyk's forte. In addition to his pair of Hawaiian victories, the 30-year-old has won three times in Las Vegas and made up a six-shot deficit over the final seven holes to win last year's Doral-Ryder Open.
 
Sunday's comeback wasn't as dramatic, but it was impressive.
 
After a bogey at the third thwarted his early momentum, Furyk sank a 60-foot eagle putt at the par-5 6th to move into contention. Clutch par saves at the 15th and 16th holes kept alive his chances, allowing him the opportunity to win the tournament on the 72nd hole.
 
Sabbatini played admirably in the final round, recording four birdies and three bogeys for a 1-under-par 72. He finished second alone, one shot clear of his Sunday playing companion, Vijay Singh, and fellow South African Ernie Els.
 
Singh was just two shots back of Sabbatini as the day began, but bogeyed his first two holes and never contended. Singh managed a final-round 71, two shots higher than that posted by Els. The leader through two rounds, Els fought his way back to within one of the lead by birdying the 15th, yet parred his way into the clubhouse to fall two shots short.
 
Several players contended on Sunday, including '99 champion David Duval and David Toms. Both men were within striking distance before each carded a double bogey. Duval shot 70 to finish seventh at 13-under, while Toms shot 72 to tie Justin Leonard (71), Michael Clark II (69) and defending champion Tiger Woods (69) for eighth place at 12-under.
 
Sabbatini only trailed twice all day. The first occasion came when he missed a six-foot par putt at the 13th, though he regained sole possession of the lead with back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15.
 
Leading by one with three holes to play, Sabbatini, who won the 2000 Air Canada Championship to qualify for this week's event, found trouble at the short par-4 16th.
 
Ironically, it was at the 16th where Sabbatini holed a 96-yard wedge shot in the second round. That eagle gave the South African his first lead of the tournament.
 
This time, Sabbatini's wedge shot came up short of the flag and rolled off the front of the green. He then chipped to five feet, where he failed to save par.
 

Both Sabbatini and Furyk, each of whom attended the University of Arizona, narrowly missed birdie putts at the 17th. Furyk then came up short of the green in two at the 663-yard par-5 18th. He pitched to ten feet. Of course, he made the putt.
 
Sabbatini hit the green on his second shot, and then lagged a 50-foot eagle putt to within three feet of the cup. Of course, he missed.
 
'I played a good last hole,' said Sabbatini, who collected $380,000. 'Unfortunately, I just hit a bad second putt - I pulled it. Obviously I'm a little disappointed. But everything happens for a reason. We'll tee it up and try to do it again.'
 
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