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Furyk mightiest of major champs

By Wire services
Published December 7, 2003

POIPU BEACH, Hawaii - If he had the option, Jim Furyk would rather win by a comfortable margin than in a playoff.

"I've been in playoffs and on the wrong side of quite a few of those, so this is definitely a lot more fun or a lot less nerve-racking," Furyk said after shooting 4-under 68 Saturday to win the PGA Grand Slam by eight over Mike Weir.

Furyk, the U.S. Open champion, pocketed $400,000 of a $1-million purse and snapped Tiger Woods' record string of five straight victories in the exclusive 36-hole event for the winners of this year's four majors. Furyk finished 9 under.

"I guess we're all glad he wasn't here," Furyk said of Woods. "I think we all want to play against the best player in the world and that's undeniably Tiger right now, but this is a great field."

Furyk was never threatened. He opened Friday with 67 for a five-stroke lead over Weir, the Masters champion. Weir, the first Canadian to win a major, shot 71 to earn $250,000. PGA champion Shaun Micheel (70) finished 10 back at 145 and collected $200,000. British Open champ Ben Curtis was another shot back after 73 and made $150,000.

It was the first event in the Grand Slam's 21-year history featuring all first-time major champs. But it was nine-year tour veteran Furyk who showed his experience. He held off opponents with strong iron play, maintained his five-stroke advantage at the turn and birdied Nos.10, 12 and 14 to pull away. Weir cut the margin to four twice with birdies on Nos.2 and 6, but couldn't put a dent in Furyk's lead on the back nine.

PGA TOUR QUALIFYING: Sweden's Mathias Gronberg, the highest-ranked player in the field at No.72 in the world, shot 1-under 71 for a three-stroke lead in Winter Garden. Gronberg was at 14-under 274, shooting the only bogey-free round of the day. The top 30 after the sixth round Monday receive 2004 tour cards; the remaining players get exempt or conditional status on the Nationwide Tour. Dan Olsen (69), Michael Allen (70), John Riegger (70) and Danny Ellis (72) were tied for second.

FATHER-SON CHALLENGE: Bernhard Langer and 13-year-old son Stefan shot 11-under 61 for a one-stroke lead in Orlando. Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus III were tied for second with Hale and Steve Irwin in the two-day, scramble event at ChampionsGate Resort. Mark and Shaun O'Meara and Larry and Josh Nelson opened with 63, and Tom and David Kite 64. Arnold Palmer and grandson Sam Saunders shot 65.

HONG KONG OPEN: Christopher Hanell shot 5-under 65 for a one-stroke lead after the third round. Hanell finished at 202 ahead of Padraig Harrington and Prayad Marksaeng. Harrington and Prayad bogeyed the 18th for 67.

AUSTRALIAN MASTERS: Robert Allenby shot 72 to maintain a two-stroke lead after three rounds in Melbourne. Allenby was 10-under 206, leading amateur James Nitties and James Moseley.

[Last modified December 7, 2003, 01:34:09]


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