Furykat last finds his winning touch

AFP

AMERICAN Jim Furyk avoided another late collapse and held off a charging Tiger Woods to end a two-year title drought with a victory at the Western Open in Lemont, Illinois in Toronto.

Despite a late stumble with a bogey on 17, Furyk held on to finish two shots clear of Woods, who became the first golfer to break through the $50 million barrier in career earnings. Recently, Furyk held a three-shot lead with five holes to play at the Barclays Classic but watched it agonisingly disappear when he was overhauled by Padraig Harrington. This time, however, he held his nerve at the Cog Hill Country Club to return a final round two-under 69 and collect his 10th career win and first since the 2003 Buick Open with a 14-under 270 total.

"Just keep plugging away," Furyk said. "It was nice to come in after last week and play as well as I did. I just knew I had to play solid down the stretch. I tried to make it interesting, but my short game held me in there. I just had to hit a couple of good shots on 18 and was happy to do it. I was disappointed with myself last week. I was disappointed that I didn't win the golf tournament, and second, it is not really that much fun, especially when you have the lead most of the day. This takes a little bit of the sting out of that."

The early bogeys may have given him a sense of deja vu but the 2003 U.S. Open champion recovered to play flawless golf, including three consecutive birdies at the turn, until a final bogey at the 17th.

Instead, it was world number one Woods, chasing a fourth Western Open title, who suffered an uncharacteristic collapse going one-over on his final seven holes to finish with a five-under 66.

Charging up the leaderboard from the opening tee, Woods mixed five birdies with a bogey over his first 10 holes, then upped the ante by draining a snaking 50-foot eagle putt on the 11th to join Furyk in front. However, Woods' rally fizzled out with back-to-back bogeys on 13 and 14 to fall four shots off the pace.

"I lost my momentum on those two holes," said Woods. I was hoping to get to seven-under and force a playoff. I was close. I'm not overly disappointed. You know, I was not looking good after the first day (a two-over-par 73). You would not have suspected that I would have been tied for the lead on the back nine after what I did the first day."

It was the second consecutive runner-up finish for Woods, who was behind New Zealand's Michael Campbell at the U.S. Open. The result, however, was enough to allow the Masters champion to become the first player to reach the 50 million dolla rs mark, achieved over a 10-year career.

Ben Curtis, the 2003 British Open champion, fired a final round three-over 74 to take third place on nine-under 275.Fijian world number two Vijay Singh shot a disappointing final round of 73 to finish 10 shots behind Furyk in a tie for 13th.