Furyk ends long drought with Transitions victory

PALM HARBOR: Jim Furyk’s one-stroke victory over KJ Choi at the Transitions Championship, his first PGA Tour title in 32 months and 58 tournaments, almost became a golfing footnote on Sunday.

When he finally reached the 18th green after a wild detour through the trees at Innisbrook, two television networks broadcast the first interview with the Tiger Woods since revelations he had been cheating on his wife. Furyk wasn’t aware of this until after he won the Transitions Championship. One of Woods’ closest friends on the PGA Tour, he walked into the interview room holding a three-page transcript of Woods’ interviews with ESPN and the Golf Channel.

All Furyk cared about was winning for the first time since the 2007 Canadian Open, his longest stretch without a victory since he first joined the PGA Tour. He almost cared too much. Furyk closed with a 2-under 69 and a 13-under total 271, despite missing the last three greens in regulation, making a remarkable par save from a bunker washed out by earlier rains, then hitting what he called a half-shank from the trees. It was Furyk’s 14th title, moving to No 6 in the world.

Choi, who started three shots out of the lead, was tied with Furyk through seven holes until a two-shot swing on the par-3 eighth. Choi never got any closer until the final hole. He closed with a 4-under 67, but his runner-up finish should be enough to move him to No 47 in the world and give him a good chance to get into the Masters.

Furyk’s road to victory was more of a roller coaster than he wanted — the birdie on No 10 to build a three-shot lead, failing to make birdie on the par-5 11th, a 35-foot birdie on the 12th, a pair of three-putt bogeys on par 3s sandwiched around a knockdown 8-iron into three feet for birdie on the 14th.

Gerry “Bubba” Watson also gave Furyk a good run and was within two shots throughout the back nine during a final round. Watson played without a bogey until the par-3 15th and finished with a 68, alone in third. Nick Watney had a 67 and was fourth, while defending champion Retief Goosen was another shot back after a 71. Furyk did capture the Chevron World Challenge in December at Sherwood against a world-class field of 18 players.