Tour Championship: Fed-Ex Cup Champion Jim Furyk Flourishes

Will LeivenbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2010

Jim Furyk drained his final putt on the 18th hole to win the Tour Championship and was annointed Fed-Ex Cup Champion.
Jim Furyk drained his final putt on the 18th hole to win the Tour Championship and was annointed Fed-Ex Cup Champion.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A three-foot putt equated to a $10 million dollar bonus. It may not make much sense, but in a game where people use a crooked stick to whack a tiny, white, dimpled ball, sometimes its better to just let it lie.

With the flatstick in the hands of the unflappable Jim Furyk, a technician under even the most nerve-wrecking circumstances, there was no question he'd drain his final putt to win the Tour Championship. After a brilliant bunker shot on the 18th hole, Furyk approached his ball, saluted the golf gods by flipping his hat around and transformed it into a rally cap. After a glance at the hole then a visible, deep-breath, he calmly sank the putt.

The pressure vanished and his elation flourished. Furyk has never displayed more joy, appreciation and pride than in that mind and body consuming moment. It was especially refreshing because it was completely unexpected out of the often stern and stoic Furyk.

Jim Furyk won the Tour Championship by just a single stroke over Englishmen Luke Donald at East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta, GA. After a bogey on the 17th hole, for a moment it seemed like Furyk may have been entering the realm of 'choking,'  where Dustin Johnson owned property throughout the season. However, his second shot out of the soggy greenside bunker on the 18th hole was loaded with so much spin that it hit the green once, bounced forward and came to a sudden halt as if on command.

He may not have been the guy who we expected to win, but Furyk has always been a contender incapable of ignoring. Furyk is just too much of a die-hard, cut-throat, go-for-broke competitor. He led the field in Ball Striking and consequently Greens in Regulation all week. Furyk was consistently aggressive with his putting, but maintained his meticulous pre-shot routine that allowed him to gauge the speed and break with precision.

In his four rounds of the Tour Championship Furyk never shot above par, finishing -8 (67-65-70-70). Luke Donald struggled on his front nine with two bogeys, but crept back into the mix with three birdies on the back nine to finish -7 for the Championship (T2). After a pair of 4-under par 66's Friday and Saturday it looked like South African Retief Goosen might put on a clinic Sunday with a come from behind victory. However it was not to be for Goose, who never quite found his rhythm in the swirling winds and constant rain of the final round, ultimately finishing in solo 3rd at -6.

Guys like Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson and Steve Stricker had the momentum going into the final leg of the Fed-Ex Cup Playoffs, but all three under-whelmed. Johnson finished +3 (T22) while Stricker and Kuchar tied at +5 (T25). The best round of the day went to Ernie Els, who pulled out a stunning 65 in the stormy conditions at East Lake to finish -2 for the Championship (T7).

It was a season of consistent inconsistency. Predicting the winner of a tournament was as easy as making an albatross or draining a 40-footer blindfolded.

Three times in a half century the golf world saw the epic score of 59. Now in one season, it came twice (Paul Goydos and Stuart Appleby). After being the Player of the Year ten times, Tiger Woods was never really in the mix to win a golf tournament this season. If that weren't bizarre enough, more than ten players under the age of 30 claimed a victory in 2010.

But the fact that golf fans didn't know what to expect week in and week out introduced a fresh level of intrigue to professional golf. It was that exact mystery and suspense that captivated viewers throughout the Fed-Ex Cup Playoffs and especially during the last riveting 18-holes of the Tour Championship.