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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, December 7, 2003

Furyk shoots to 8-shot win in Grand Slam of Golf

By Jaymes Song
Associated Press

Grand Slam scores

At Po'ipu Bay Golf Course
Po'ipu Beach, Kaua'i

Purse: $1 million

• Yardage: 7,081; Par 72

• Final round

Jim Furyk, $400,000 68—135

Mike Weir, $250,000 71—143

Shaun Micheel, $200,000 70—145

Ben Curtis, $150,000 73—146
PO'IPO BEACH, Kaua'i — If he had the option, Jim Furyk would rather win by a comfortable margin than in a playoff.

"I've been in playoffs and on the wrong side of quite a few of those, so this is definitely a lot more fun or a lot less nerve-racking," Furyk said after shooting a 4-under-par 68 yesterday to win the PGA Grand Slam by eight strokes over Mike Weir.

Furyk, the U.S. Open champion, pocketed $400,000 of a $1 million purse and snapped Tiger Woods' record string of five straight victories in the exclusive 36-hole event for the winners of this year's four majors. Furyk wound up at 9-under 135 on the 7,081-yard Po'ipu Bay course.

"I guess we're all glad he wasn't here," Furyk said of Woods. "I think we all want to play against the best player in the world and that's undeniably Tiger right now, but this is a great field."

Furyk, who won twice this year on the PGA Tour and finished fourth on the money list, was never seriously threatened. He opened Friday with a 67, good for a five-stroke lead over Weir, the Masters champion.

"I kind of got out to a big lead and just kept the ball in play in between the trees and got it done," Furyk said. "I played pretty solid. I struck the ball very, very well Friday, and today I found a way to get in the hole and made some putts."

Weir, the first Canadian to win a major, closed with a 71 to earn $250,000. PGA champion Shaun Micheel shot a 70 to finish 10 strokes back at 145 and collect $200,000. British Open champion Ben Curtis was another shot behind after a final-round 73 and made $150,000.

It was the first event in the Grand Slam's 21-year history featuring all first-time major champions. But it was nine-year tour veteran Furyk who showed his experience.

He held off his opponents with strong iron play, maintained his five-stroke advantage at the turn and birdied Nos. 10, 12 and 14 to pull away.

"At that point, we were playing for second place unless something crazy happened," Weir said. "You never know in this game, but as well as Jim was playing, he wasn't going to mess that up."

Furyk hit a 5-iron approach shot from 158 yards to set up a 6-foot birdie putt on the 435-yard 12th hole. The birdie, coupled with Weir's bogey, gave Furyk a commanding eight-stroke lead.

He went up by another stroke on the par-4 14th when he hit a wedge within 6 feet of the cup for a birdie.

Furyk's round included five birdies and one bogey. He had a total of 11 birdies for the tournament. His opponents combined for 14.

His bogey on No. 15 broke a string of 29 bogey-free holes.

The final round was played in balmy and slightly breezy conditions on the course on the southern coastline of Kaua'i.

Po'ipu was designed around several ancient heiau, or sacred worship sites, and features 86 bunkers and seven water hazards. The scenic course has a backdrop of the lush, green, rugged mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

Furyk, who owns a home on Maui, came into the Grand Slam having earned more than $1.8 million in Hawai'i. He won the 2001 Mercedes Championships on Maui, and took the 1996 Hawaiian Open on O'ahu.

He even flashed a "shaka" sign to the crowd as he sank his putt on the final hole.

"Every time I come, I definitely get a bit of support in Hawai'i," he said. "Someone called me 'kama'aina' the other day which is pretty interesting. That's an honor."

Weir cut the margin to four strokes twice — with birdies on Nos. 2 and 6 — but couldn't put a dent into Furyk's lead on the back nine. Weir also missed several birdie opportunities.

One of the tournament's highlights was his chip on the par-3 seventh hole. His ball was wedged between a large rock and the rough, but he managed to chip to 10 feet with the toe of his putter.

He didn't save par, but received loud applause from the gallery.

Micheel began the day fourth after shooting himself out of contention with a first-round 75. But he managed four birdies on the back nine to finish third.

"After playing with Jim yesterday, I really didn't have much of a chance," he said. "He was playing so well. But it was nice to finish out the back nine the way I did."

Curtis, 26, the youngest player in the field, had a two-stroke edge over Micheel at the start the final round. But he failed to find his rhythm with only one birdie.

Last year, Woods finished the first round with a tournament-record 11-under 61. He had a record 17-under 127 total for a 14-stroke victory over Davis Love III and Justin Leonard.

Woods failed to win a major this year, precluding him for defense of his record.