Furyk ends win drought at the 'perfect place'
Former FedExCup champion earns first PGA TOUR victory since 2010 in playoff at RBC Heritage
April 19, 2015
By Bob Gillespie, Special to PGATOUR.COM
- April 19, 2015
- Jim Furyk celebrates after defeating Kevin Kisner on the second playoff hole at Harbour Town Golf Links. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Through more than four years and a lot of heartaches, Jim Furyk said he never gave up hope of winning again on the PGA TOUR.
Turns out, all he needed was a return to a golf course – Harbour Town Golf Links – that perfectly fit his short-but-precise game, and the return of a putting touch that was hot and cold during the four days of the RBC Heritage but all but perfect when it mattered most.
Furyk chalked up his 17th career PGA TOUR victory on Sunday, shooting a day’s-best 8-under par 63 and then holding off South Carolina native Kevin Kisner in a two-hole playoff with a combination of deadly accurate approach shots and clutch birdie putts.
When the winning putt from 12 feet at Harbour Town’s 17th hole (second playoff hole) dropped, the two-time RBC Heritage champion – he previously won in 2010 – showed what it meant to him, punctuating the crowd’s cheers with a fist pump. A lot of emotion, four and a half years’ worth, went into that punch, he said.
“It’s been a little over four and a half (years), to be exact,” Furyk said. “And I think that dropping that putt and getting excited on 17, there was a lot of pent-up frustration.
“I can’t think of a more fitting place to kind of break that streak and get another win under my belt. This is my favorite event. I love being here. And outside of winning another major championship (to add to his 2003 U.S. Open), this is the perfect place to do it.”
Furyk’s 2010 RBC Heritage win was one of three that year, when he snapped a winless streak of three years. His breakthrough win that year at the Transitions Championship, though, left him feeling less elated than grateful to end the pain.
This streak-buster is different, he said.
“In 2010 when I won in Tampa, I said I was happy but I was more relieved,” he said. “This (week), for one reason or another ... it’s not really relief at all. It’s zero percent relief and 100 percent joy. It felt really good.”
Certainly, Sunday’s red-hot finish was uplifting. Four shots back of third-round leader Troy Merritt to start, Furyk played better-lucky-than-good golf the first four holes, turning what he said felt like 2 over into 2 under.
“I really got some good breaks early,” he said.
Then Furyk’s on-again-off-again putting (he shot even par Thursday without a birdie) went into warp drive, and he birdied four straight to take the lead at 16-under through nine holes. A bogey, his only one, at 11 briefly left him in a four-way tie, but he rebounded with birdies at Nos. 12, 13 and 15 for a three-shot lead.
Even when Kisner caught him with a birdie at the final hole, Furyk’s confidence never flagged. “I didn’t hold back,” he said. “I wasn’t conservative, everything was aggressive. And I hit a lot of shots at the pin and still stayed hot with the putter.”
Finishing with two birdies in the playoff was fitting, given his day-best nine birdies Sunday.
Jim Furyk wins in a playoff at RBC Heritage
KISNER BATTLES TO THE END: Kevin Kisner came as close on Sunday as any South Carolina native ever has in 47 years to winning the RBC Heritage, his home state’s annual PGA TOUR event.
At the end of a two-hole playoff, though, that wasn’t close enough. Going up against past RBC Heritage champion Jim Furyk, in sudden death, Kisner sort of knew that might be the case.
“I knew the scores (Sunday) were going to be low, and ... I managed to shoot low,” he said of his closing 7-under par 64. “But every time I looked up on the back nine, Jim was making another birdie."
Still, Kisner, who came as close to a win on the PGA TOUR as he ever has in 90 starts, made Furyk work for his second RBC Heritage tartan blazer.
The 31-year-old from Aiken, S.C., opened with an eagle on the par-5 second hole, added birdies at the fifth and sixth holes, and – after Furyk surged to a three-shot lead on the field – birdied Nox. 14 and 15 to pull within a shot, before catching the leader with a clutch birdie from seven feet on 18 to force extra holes.
He then drained a 17-foot birdie on the first playoff hole (No. 18) that forced Furyk to match him, which he did. No surprise, Kisner said.
“You don’t expect a guy of Jim’s caliber to miss an (8)-footer straight up the hill,” he said.
Moments later at the par-3 17th, Kisner’s birdie attempt from 24 feet missed high, and Furyk – whose putting was deadly all day – didn’t blink, draining a 12-footer to win.
“I never felt like I was in the lead. I was always chasing,” Kisner said. “It was never like I was going to win at any moment. I had a chance, but man, I’m just proud of the way I handled it down the stretch.”
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Caught Fluff taking a power nap this morning around 8am in the caddy area, must have known he was going to carry the bag 4 an extra 2 holes!— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) April 19, 2015
@K_Kisner Great playing this week bud! Plenty more opportunities coming your way!— William McGirt (@WilliamMcGirt) April 19, 2015
HOLE-OUT VAULTS O'HAIR: Sean O’Hair was having, by his estimation, a solid Sunday at the RBC Heritage. Then one swing with a sand wedge turned it into a great round.
O’Hair’s hole-out from 113 yards for eagle at the par-4 16th hole was the highlight of a 7-under 64 that vaulted him from far off the final-day lead into a solo sixth-place finish. His only better showing in 2015 came when he lost in a playoff at the Valspar Championship – a result that got lost in the first Jordan Spieth victory of what has become the year’s top story.
“You know, I played really solid all day,” O’Hair said. “Nothing spectacular, just kind of was hitting the right shots and making some nice putts.
“And then I had a really good front nine (4-under 32) and I kept kind of thinking in my head, ‘Troy Merritt shot 10-under (Friday) with a 4 under on the front. I was playing with him when he did it. I kind of had that in the back of my mind.”
O’Hair had struggled the past three years. He finished outside the top 125 money winners in 2013 and 2014, with just one top-10 finish during the two years. He needed a finish of 31st on the Web.com Tour in 2014 to regain his status, and so far this year is ranked 401st in the OWGR.
His playoff loss to Spieth (Patrick Reed also fell to Spieth’s birdie on the third playoff hole) aside, O’Hair has had three top-30 finishes this season.
“I’ve been playing well all year, and just not quite putting four rounds together,” he said. “(But) I’m starting to do that again, which is nice, and I’m starting to finally see some results, which is good.”
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Kevin Kisner’s fantastic approach is the Shot of the Day
ROUND 4 STATS
Category Leader(s) Statistic Driving accuracy Blake Adams, Kevin Kisner, Russell Knox, Bryce Molder
Strokes gained: tee-to-green Kevin Kisner
Greens in regulation Blake Adams
Strokes gained: putting Cameron Smith
Putts per round Robert Allenby
Lowest round Jim Furyk
Total birdies Jim Furyk
CALL OF THE DAY
ODDS AND ENDS
Jordan Spieth finished T11 after a final-round 1-under 70 but maintains his leads in the FedExCup standings. Spieth also continues to lead the TOUR with seven top-10 finishes in 2014-15. …
Brendon Todd finished fourth in his third start at the RBC Heritage. He missed the cut in 2012 and finishing T38 in 2014. …
South African Branden Grace (T7) earns his first top 10 on TOUR in his 35th start. He was already in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans field next week via a sponsor exemption. …
Bo Van Pelt (T9) recorded his first top 10 of the season at the RBC Heritage. After recording 10 top-10 finishes in 2012, Van Pelt has only had one in each of the last three seasons on TOUR. ...
Louis Oosthuizen (T7) had a top 10 in his first start at the RBC Heritage with four rounds in the 60s (69-67-69-67). …
Tom Watson, a winner here in 1979 and 1982, finished T72.
Click on the image below to see the best images from Round 4 of the RBC Heritage.