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Finally, Furyk finds elusive victory No. 17

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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.