Furyk closed with a 2-under 69 on Sunday for a one-shot victory over K.J. Choi in the Transitions Championship, his first victory since the 2007 Canadian Open to end his longest winless stretch since he first joined the tour 16 years ago.
He did just enough right on the back nine of Innisbrook that he could afford a few mistakes down the stretch, and he nearly made a whopper.
With a two-shot lead on the 18th hole of the Copperhead course, Furyk drove into the trees, nearly took out NBC reporter Roger Maltbie with his next shot and needed a good lag from 30 feet to secure a bogey.
Furyk finished at 13-under 271 and won for the 14th time in his career, moving to No. 6 in the world.
"I have a habit of making it tough on myself," Furyk said. "Just nerves got me, to be honest with you."
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.
Choi raised both arms in a strongman pose when he heard about the world ranking, a good consolation prize provided he stays in the top 50 after Bay Hill next week.
Bubba Watson, who has never won on the PGA Tour or Nationwide Tour, also gave Furyk a good run and was within two shots throughout the back nine during a final round that had nearly six hours of weather delays.
Watson played without a bogey until the par-3 15th, when he came up short of the green, chipped over the green and dropped a crucial shot. He made pars the rest of the way for a 68, finishing alone in third.
Nick Watney had a 67 and was fourth, while defending champion Retief Goosen was another shot back after a 71.
Furyk had gone 58 starts on the PGA Tour without winning. He did capture the Chevron World Challenge in December at Sherwood against a world-class field of 18 players, which counted toward the world ranking.
He never lost the lead, although Furyk had to endure some sharp changes in momentum. He followed a 35-foot birdie putt on the 12th with a three-putt on the 13th, and followed another birdie with another three-putt bogey.
Furyk failed to hit his last three greens in regulation, putting from 80 feet off the green on the 16th to within a foot to save par, and hitting a tough bunker shot from sand packed by morning rain to 7 feet and making the par putt on the 17th.
That figured to be the hard part until Furyk's adventures on the 18th. But he made his bogey, and he won his trophy.
The starting times were moved up to avoid an afternoon forecast of thunderstorms, which arrived earlier than expected. After a delay of just over an hour, Furyk was on the first tee waiting for the fairway to clear when the siren sounded to suspend play, and the rumble of thunder soon followed.
When players returned to the course nearly four hours later, Furyk opened strong with two birdies in three holes, with his biggest challenge coming from Choi.
A two-time winner at Innisbrook, Choi had four birdies in six holes, including a 60-foot putt across the green at No. 3 and a 10-footer at No. 6 for a share of the lead. Furyk restored his cushion with a two-shot swing on the par-3 eighth by making a 25-foot birdie putt as Choi missed the green and failed to save par.
Watson was lurking all along.
He made birdie on the two par 5s on the front nine, rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 10th and pulled within two shots with a delicate pitch over the bunker to 7 feet on the 11th for another birdie. His only mistake came on the par-5 14th, when he chipped too strong and ran through the green, having to settle for par.
Furyk was tough as ever. Right when Watson was making a mini-charge, Furyk answered with a 35-foot birdie putt on the 12th, and after a three-putt bogey on the 13th, he followed with a wedge to 3 feet for birdie to restore the margin to three shots with four to play.
From there, it became a battle for second — with more than money at stake.
Choi, who was at No. 75 in the world coming into the week, needed to finish alone in second place to move into the top 50 in the world.
"It's actually better than what I thought I would be at this point," Choi said. "So definitely I've exceeded my expectations. All I can say is I will try my best next week to maintain or better that position."
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