ATLANTA (Reuters) - Jim Furyk clinched his 15th PGA Tour title when his playoff with Britain’s Brian Davis for the Heritage Classic ended in unfortunate circumstances at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina on Sunday.
The American world number six triumphed at the first extra hole after Davis was assessed a two-stroke penalty for making contact with a loose impediment in a greenside hazard when playing his third shot.
On his backswing, Englishman Davis clipped a dry reed with his club before splashing out to 30 feet and he immediately called over a rules official to clarify the situation.
Having been penalized, Davis went on to miss his long-range putt and conceded the title to Furyk, who was six feet from the cup after three shots at the par-four 18th.
Furyk coolly sank his par putt to complete his second victory on the U.S. circuit in five weeks.
“To have the tournament come down that way is definitely not the way I want to win,” the 39-year-old American told reporters. “It’s obviously a tough loss for him, and I respect and admire what he did.
“I’m very happy to win but you almost don’t know how to react,” said Furyk, who ended a PGA Tour title drought of almost three years at last month’s Tampa Bay Championship. “It was an awkward moment, an awkward way to win.”
Davis, who had been seeking his first PGA Tour victory, had a bad feeling the minute he completed his third shot in the playoff.
“It was one of those things I thought I saw movement out of the corner of my eye,” the 35-year-old Englishman said.
“I thought we’d check on TV, and indeed there was movement.”
The pair finished the 72 regulation holes on 13-under-par 271, Davis rolling in a 17-foot birdie putt on the 18th green for a three-under-par 68 and Furyk closing with a 69.
American Bo van Pelt bogeyed the last for a 69 to share third place at 10 under with Britain’s Luke Donald (70).
A final-round shootout appeared to be on the cards with Furyk holding a slender one-stroke advantage overnight and 12 players bunched within three strokes of his lead.
Although Furyk was caught early on by playing partner Davis and American Heath Slocum, he regained a one-shot cushion after reaching the turn in three-under 33.
On a breezy afternoon at the Harbour Town Golf Links, Furyk and Davis then dueled for supremacy over the back nine before the Briton appeared to throw away his title bid with missed six-footers to bogey 15 and 16.
One ahead playing the last, Furyk pushed his approach right of the green from where he got up and down for par but Davis forced extra holes with his clutch 17-footer.
After heading off to the 18th for a second time, both players found the heart of the fairway off the tee before the drama of the first extra hole unfolded.
Davis pulled his seven-iron approach left of the green, his ball bouncing off rocks and ending up on compacted sand in a hazard.
Furyk responded by hitting his six-iron on to the fringe at the back of the green from where he putted to around six feet.
After pondering whether to take a penalty drop, Davis finally decided to play his third shot out of the hazard and television replays of the reed being struck on his backswing ultimately sealed his fate.
“I gave myself a chance the last six or seven holes, unfortunately I didn’t finish it off,” he said. “I’m proud of what I did on 18 the first time around, but obviously it doesn’t relate to a win so it’s a bit disappointing.”
Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury