Penalty in playoff leads to Furyk’s awkward Verizon Heritage win

April 20, 2010

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Jim Furyk hasn’t had many victories as bizarre as his Verizon Heritage win.

OK, maybe he’s had at least one as strange.

Furyk won his 15th PGA Tour event, and second since March, after Brian Davis ended their one-hole playoff by calling a two-stroke penalty on himself. Davis ticked a loose reed in a marshy area beside the 18th green and called in a ruling that confirmed the violation.

Furyk felt empathy for Davis, who dueled him down the stretch at Harbour Town as he tried for his first career tour win. Instead, Furyk was left wondering whether to celebrate as his children rushed the green.

“I’ve only had a win feel more awkward than that once in my life,” he said.

That came in 1997 when he was a 27-year-old pro playing the Argentine Open. Furyk had tied Eduardo Romero and was anticipating a playoff when “El Gato,” Romero’s nickname, was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.

“We sat in the scorer’s tent 20 minutes waiting for a ruling and everyone else was speaking Spanish, and I had no idea … what was going on,” Furyk recounted.

Finally, Furyk was told he won. “Okay,” he asked, “Why?”

Furyk was almost as dumbstruck this time after Davis’ infraction. “Are you sure?” he asked his opponent.

“I know I did,” Davis responded, according to PGA Tour tournament director Slugger White. “I could not have lived with myself if I had not.”

What Davis lost on the course will be regained in his reputation for his honorable act, White said.

“That will come back to him spades, tenfold,” White said.

That was little consolation for Davis, who rolled in a clutch 18-footer for birdie on his final regulation hole to catch Furyk and force the extra hole.

Davis’ troubles began with his approach, a wayward 7-iron that hit the left edge of the green, rattled off the rocks boarding Calibogue Sound and settled amid some grass, twigs and reeds.

Davis’ error, a violation of rule 13.4 against moving a loose impediment during a takeaway, was indiscernible but for slow motion replays.

“It was one of those things I thought I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. And I thought we’d check on TV, and indeed there was movement,” Davis said.

He immediately conceded victory to Furyk.

“I want to react to the crowd and kind of wave and let them know, that ‘Hey, I’m excited,'” Furyk said. “But I don’t want it to take away from Brian.”

Furyk earned $1.026 million, finally tasting victory at Harbour Town after posting two second-place and one fourth-place finish since 2005.

Davis earned $615,000 for his fourth second-place finish on the PGA Tour.

“To have the tournament come down that way is definitely not the way I wanted to win,” Furyk said. “It’s obviously a tough loss for him and I respect and admire what he did.”

Moments later, the playoff was done with Davis’ self-imposed violation, something inconceivable in most other sports, where competitors take pride in getting every edge they can.

“He’s class, first class,” White said.

Davis held a one-shot lead over Furyk with four holes left when things began to go wrong. Davis had back-to-back bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes to slip behind the ultra-steady Furyk.

Davis shot a 68 and, like Furyk, ended with four rounds in the 60s.

Bo Van Pelt (69) and Luke Donald (70) were two shots further back in third.