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Furyk Collects At Las Vegas

Jim Furyk hit the jackpot again, for $450,000.

Furyk, who seems to have made the Las Vegas Invitational his own, shot a 6-under 66 Sunday to win the tournament for the second consecutive year and third time in five years.

With a six-year PGA Tour career that includes just one win outside Las Vegas, Furyk held off Jonathan Kaye, who has not won a tour event, by one shot.

Furyk finished at 29-under 331 for the five-day event, and, amazingly, had just one bogey over the 90 holes. His card for the tournament included 32 birdies, one double-bogey, and the rest pars.

He said he doesn't understand why he has been so successful in the Las Vegas event, which is a pro-am format played over desert courses that traditionally yield extremely low scores.

But he theorized that, since everyone realizes there are going to be batches of birdies, patience probably is the key.

"I know when you start and you think you're going to have to go 25 under, average 5 under for five days, that's an awesome number. That can cause a lot of pressure," he said. "So I think you have to take your focus off that and not start forcing the ball, not hit stupid shots."

"You have to stick to your basic plan and just let it happen."

Furyk said he also got a boost this year from his new caddie, Mike "Fluff" Cowan, who worked for Tiger Woods until Woods let him go. Cowan signed on with Furyk earlier this year.

"He's been through a lot, and there's not much that he hasn't seen," Furyk said of Cowan. "He's a good addition for me."

The 29-year-old Furyk, whose looping swing is one of the tour's most unorthodox, first won the tournament in 1995.

Although he has become one of the tour's more consistent players, with 12 top 10 finishes in 1998 and eight this year, Furyk's only other career win was at Hawaii in 1996.

Kaye, a self-taught golfer whose career was sidetracked by shoulder problems, shot a 64 to earn $270,000, his biggest payday.

"Sometimes your best just isn't good enough on this tour," Kaye said. "He doesn't make many mistakes, and when he does, he recovers."

Temperatures were in the 70s and there was a slight breeze, similar to conditions for the first three rounds of the five-day tournament, but a dramatic change from Saturday. Winds gusting up to 40 mph had sent scores higher for that fourth round, although Furyk shot a steady 71, and Kaye stayed close with a 73.

Kaye began the final round three shots behind Furyk and caught him with a birdie on No. 11. Kaye bogeyed the next hole and Furyk parred, but Kaye drew even again with a birdie on No. 13.

Furyk moved back in front with birdie on 14, ending his string of six consecutive pars, and opened the lead to two shots with birdies on 15 and 16. He parred the final two holes, and Kaye birdied the 18th for the final margin.

"I have to give a lot of credit to Jonathan," Furyk said. "He played super today and made me earn it."

Kaye, whose best previous finish was second as a rookie in the 1995 Quad Cities Classic, had been slowed by rotor cuff surgery in 1996. But, at age 29, he seems to be coming into his own. He has finished in the top 10 four times this year, including a tie for fourth at the B.C. Open.

"I've been hitting it good all year," Kaye said. "It (a win) is going to happen."

Dudley Hart shot a 64 to take third, seven shots behind Furyk. Chris Perry's 68 gave him fourth at 21 under.

Fred Couples bounced back from a 79 on Saturday to finish with a 66 that put him in a group tied for 10th at 17 under, along with Tommy Armour III. Armour, who flirted with the PGA record of 59 when he shot a 60 on the second day, had a 77 in the wind on Saturday, but finished with a 69.

Divots: Furyk earned more than $2 million last year without winning a title. His Las Vegas check put his earnings at $1.6 million this year.

  • Kaye has earned $744,403, by far his best money year.
  • Furyk won the tournament last year with a 25-under 335, and finished 29 under in 1995.
  • Kaye had seven bogeys, six more than Furyk, over the five days, but had three eagles to none for the winner.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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