HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Jim Furyk won his first PGA Tour event in five years, making birdies on both playoff holes to outlast Kevin Kisner at the RBC Heritage on Sunday.
Furyk was ahead by a stroke when Kisner birdied the 72nd hole to force the playoff, the fourth in the last six tournaments at Harbour Town Golf Links. On the first extra hole, Kisner rolled in a second straight birdie putt on the 18th. But Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, answered with a birdie to keep the playoff going.
After Kisner missed his birdie try on No. 17, Furyk sank a 12-foot putt for his 17th career PGA Tour win. He dropped his putter and punched the air in celebration.
Furyk shot a 63 and Kisner a 64, leaving them both at 18-under 266. Third-round leader Troy Merritt was at 16 under after a 69. Defending champion Matt Kuchar (68) was at 14 under, and Masters winner Jordan Spieth (70) was eight shots back.
It was an odd tournament for Team RBC golfer Furyk, who had come close to breaking his victory drought so many times – he was 0-9 holding 54-hole leads since his last victory – including the 2014 RBC Canadian Open at Royal Montreal Golf Club.
He looked as if he’d get left behind early, making 18 pars in the first round to fall five shots back. Furyk found his game Friday with eight birdies on the way to a 64. He had a 68 Saturday, yet knew he needed to fire himself as he did Friday to have a chance.
Boy, did he ever.
Furyk had six birdies on his first nine holes, including a 48-footer on the par-4 eighth that moved him in front. A bogey on the 11th dropped Furyk into a four-way tie for first, but he responded with birdies on three of the next four holes and looked as if he’d have an easy time.
Instead, Kisner matched Furyk’s on-target irons to chase him down on the back nine. He had birdies on the 14th and 15th to move within a stroke and stuck his approach on the signature lighthouse hole at No. 18 within 7 feet for a tying birdie.
Kisner kissed his wife, Brittany, and 10-month old daughter Kathleen on the way to the scoring trailer to prepare for more golf.
Furyk is used to such grinding at Harbour Town. When he won there in 2010, Brian Davis tied him on the final hole to force a playoff – won by Furyk when Davis struck a loose impediment on his swing and called a penalty on himself.
Merritt fell to third after a third 69 this week. His other score was a course-record tying 61 in the second round Friday. Merritt couldn’t keep up with Furyk’s charge and lost his chance after hitting out of bounds on No. 12 and taking double bogey. Merritt made up for it a few holes later with an eagle-2 on No. 16.
Spieth closed an amazing five-tournament stretch. He won the Valspar Championship a month ago and followed that with seconds at the Texas and Houston opens before matching Tigers Woods’ record of 18 under at Augusta National. For Spieth, 19 of his past 20 rounds have been under par.
Spieth had a whirlwind media tour in New York on Monday and Tuesday before arriving at Hilton Head. Now the 21-year-old Texan wants to get back to Dallas in time to attend the Academy of Country Music Awards. He’ll return to golf in two weeks at the World Golf Championship Match Play event.
Nick Taylor was the lone Canadian to make the cut. The Abbotsford, B.C., golfer finihsed 74th at 4 over.
Golfers went off in groups of three on the first and 10th tees starting at 7:30 a.m. to beat expected stormy weather later in the day.