Furyk Wins Canadian Open by 1 Stroke

Monday, September 11th 2006, 6:11 am
By: News On 6

ANCASTER, Ontario (AP) _ Jim Furyk lived up to his reputation as a straight-shooter at the Canadian Open _ both on and off the course. After beating Bart Bryant by a stroke Sunday, the U.S. Ryder Cup player said he would return to defend his title next year despite a schedule change that places the national championship between the last two majors and another top event.

``I've never won a tournament and not shown up to defend,'' Furyk said. ``I'll be here. I'm going to play the Canadian Open next year. I'll figure it out.''

With the tournament shifting to late July next year to open September spots for the new FedEx Cup playoffs, the event at Angus Glen in Markham will be played the week after the British Open, with the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship the following two weeks.

``I'll be honest, I probably wouldn't play if I hadn't won,'' Furyk said. ``I feel it's a point of honor. I feel I should be here and I'll come back to play.''

Set to make his fifth Ryder Cup appearance in less than two weeks, Furyk closed with a 5-under 65 _ the best round of the day _ in cool and windy conditions on the rain-softened Hamilton Golf and Country Club course. He finished with a 14-under 266 total and earned $900,000 for his second victory of the year and 12th overall.

``It's been a great year and I've still got some events left,'' said Furyk, in the top four for the sixth time in his last seven tournaments. ``I'm probably putting more consistently. I've just kind of found a way to get the ball in the hole and score.''

Furyk, who followed an opening 63 with rounds of 71 and 67 to begin the day two strokes behind Justin Rose at 9 under, made a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 10th for a share of the lead at 12 under with Jonathan Byrd.

The 36-year-old star just missed 15-foot birdie putts on the next two holes before holing a 12-footer on the par-3 13th to take a two-stroke lead.

``That was probably the hole of the day for me,'' Furyk said. ``I missed the green the first three days going in there with my hybrid, but I made a pile of putts.

``It was 235 yards today. I hit a soft 3-wood in there past the hole and had a really fast, tricky putt. I missed relatively benign putts on 11 and 12 and I was able to knock that one in. That's like stealing, making 2.''

After Bryant and Sean O'Hair pulled within a stroke, Furyk two-putted for birdie on the par-5 17th to push the lead back to two and finished with a 5-foot par putt on 18.

``That putt on 18 was a little tricky,'' Furyk said. ``I hit a pretty darn good putt.''

The 43-year-old Bryant finished with a 67. He made a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to get to 13 under, but missed a chance to force a playoff when his 60-foot birdie attempt on 18 veered a couple of feet left.

``It was tougher today with that wind,'' Bryant said. ``It seemed like I was out of position on the greens all day long.''

O'Hair shot a 68 to finish third at 12 under. Brett Quigley (68) was another stroke back and Byrd (70), Rory Sabbatini (66), Camilo Villegas (68), Steve Lowery (69) and Trevor Immelman (70) followed at 10 under. Early in the round, three players were tied for the lead at 11 under and seven more were 10 under.

Byrd was penalized two strokes after the round for a rules infraction _ spotted by a TV analyst _ in a bunker on No. 9. He was penalized under Rule 13-4 for testing the sand with his feet away from where he would take his stance to hit the shot.

Rose shot a 74 to tie for 14th at 7 under.

After rain Saturday further softened the soggy course, the final round was played in clear conditions with the temperature hovering in the high 50s on the 90-year-old layout on the rim of the Niagara Escarpment. The wind gusted to 20 mph.

Furyk entered the championship for the first time since 1999, in large part because his peers raved about the Harry S. Colt-designed course following the 2003 tournament _ the first tour event on the layout since the 1930 Canadian Open.

The Pennsylvania native has thrived on traditional courses. He won the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields, took the Buick Open that year at Warwick Hills and won the Wachovia Championship this year at Quail Hollow.

``The best player won the tournament. It doesn't surprise me that Jim shot 5 under today on a tough golf course,'' Bryant said. ``I figured Jim was going to have a great week because this was right up his alley.''

Furyk, expected to be paired with Tiger Woods in the Ryder Cup, left Canada on Sunday night to fly to England for the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, another Colt-designed course that Ernie Els recently renovated.

``I've never been there, but I've heard a lot of good things about that golf course,'' said Furyk, well aware that he said the same thing last week.

Divots: Furyk, No. 3 in the world rankings, is second on the PGA Tour money list with a career-best $6,084,016 in 21 events. He also pushed his career total to $30,070,767. ... Nationwide Tour player David Hearn was the top Canadian, closing with a 68 to tie for 20th at 5 under.