American professional golfer Jim Furyk overcame a disqualification for oversleeping to capture the FedEx Cup's grand prize of $10 million.
This will be a year that Jim Furyk will long remember. Furyk did not win a single PGA tournament in 2008 or 2009, so ending 2010 by winning the FedEx Cup, the richest prize in golf, at age 40 could not have been further from his mind. But that is exactly what he did on Sunday by winning the Tour Championship in Atlanta, his third victory of the year.
This was only the fourth year for the FedEx Cup. Its introduction in 2007 marked the first time the PGA Tour had a playoff system. It is based on points earned depending on how golfers perform at tournaments throughout the year, with some events offering more points than others. At the end of the regular season, the top 125 players participate in the playoffs.
After the third playoff tournament, only the top 30 golfers advance to the final event. It is possible to win the FedEx Cup grand prize of $10 million without winning the final event, the Tour Championship. American Tiger Woods did it last year and Fiji's Vijay Singh did it the year before that.
But that was not the case for Furyk. He had to win the final tournament. Furyk had put himself in a big hole because he was disqualified from the first of the four FedEx Cup playoff events, The Barclays, for oversleeping and missing a separate pre-tournament event where the professionals were paired with amateurs. That cost him a lot of potential points and many figured he was out of contention.
A golf expert for insidetheropes.com, Tom Auclair, said he was not surprised that Furyk was able to overcome the long odds because he is unflappable.
"I remember speaking with him last week at the Tour Championship and speaking specifically about The Barclays and he said, 'Look, the only time I talk about it is when you guys bring it up,' meaning the media. When the media brings it up that is the only time he was thinking about it and as far as he was concerned it was in the past. There was nothing he could do about it, he was moving forward and move forward he did to win that jackpot," he said.
And Jim Furyk won the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup in dramatic style. He built a three-shot lead in Sunday's final round in Atlanta. But as the weather deteriorated and a steady rain fell, his lead dwindled to one ahead of England's Luke Donald after he bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes. Donald had chipped in for a birdie from 33 meters on the 17th to keep his hopes alive.
Furyk came to the 18th and final hole needing a par three to win, but he hit his tee shot into a deep bunker next to the green. His blast out of the wet sand came to a stop less than one meter past the hole, and he tapped in for the win. "To win the season trophy here is just a lot of fun. There was a lot riding on my round today, a lot riding down the stretch in some terrible weather. And I was able to - although it did not look pretty the last three (holes) - I was able to get the job done and [it is] just very special," he said.
With the one-stroke victory, Furyk had a huge payday of $11.35 million, $1.35 million for winning the Tour Championship and the $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup.
Furyk also won two tournaments earlier in the year, but he will not be able to rest long on his laurels. He is on the U.S. Ryder Cup team that takes on Europe beginning Friday at Celtic Manor in Wales.
Auclair said Furyk told reporters he knows he can refocus on the prestigious biennial event.
"He said, 'I promise you if I do not play well at the Ryder Cup it is going to have nothing to do with this, because it is certainly an event that I love more than anything else, playing with your country, playing with 11 teammates.' You know, he is a big fan of team sports, and of course we all know that golf is an individual sport. But you can count on Jim Furyk to play well, I am sure. And he is pretty fired up for it," he said.
The United States is the defending champion, but has not won the Ryder Cup on foreign soil since 1993. New FedEx Cup champion Jim Furyk is hoping he can be a factor in helping change that.