Wed Aug 18, 2021

Jim Furyk returns to course he loves on 20th anniversary of epic playoff with Tiger Woods

Jim Furyk can’t believe 20 years have passed since his epic seven-hole playoff with Tiger Woods at Firestone Country Club.

“No. Might feel like 30…” Furyk said.

While the loss remains “bittersweet,” Furyk was able to joke about the memory and his advancing age as he shifts his commitment to the PGA Tour Champions.

Furyk, 51, returns to Akron for the first time in five years for the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship, one of five senior majors that opens Thursday at Firestone’s famed South Course.

When he arrives at a venue that he played for decades on the PGA Tour, Furyk said he’s usually first struck by his body of work. That will certainly be the case in the Rubber City.

In 17 appearances at Firestone for the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational from 1999-2016, Furyk recorded five top-five finishes and eight top-10s, including his first five tournaments. He finished second twice, to Woods in 2001 and to Keegan Bradley in 2012, took solo third in 2006 and tied for third in 2015.

“Definitely feel like it was a place that I should have won in my career,” Furyk said in a June 9 telephone interview. “I’m definitely a little bit heartbroken because I like the golf course so much and it’s a place I didn’t win.

“Riviera in LA would be a golf course I would say something like that about, Colonial in Fort Worth. Three of my favorite courses and I’ve had very good finishes at all of them. I think I finished second at Colonial a couple times (1998, 2007). Those are the kind of golf courses I’ve loved in my career, but wasn’t able to win at.”

When asked to recall a few Firestone memories, Furyk turned back the clock to the duel with Woods in the 2001 NEC Invitational. The playoff remains CBS’ highest-rated golf broadcast from Firestone. That bested 1988 (Mike Reid beat Tom Watson in a playoff), 1989 (David Frost beat Ben Crenshaw in a playoff), 2005 (Woods won by one shot over Chris DiMarco) and 2000 (Woods’ “Shot in the dark” victory finish).

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