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Furyk sets sights on fourth Las Vegas title

Jim Furyk isn't ready to concede another PGA Tour player of the year award to Tiger Woods.

``I'd say he's in the driver's seat, I wouldn't say he's wrapped it up,'' the US Open champion said.

This week Furyk has a chance to enhance his resume at The Las Vegas Invitational -- an event he's won three times since 1995.

The 90-hole tournament starts Wednesday. The first three rounds will be played on three courses -- TPC Summerlin, TPC at The Canyons and Southern Highlands, with the final 36 holes at TPC Summerlin.

Furyk is finishing up his best season on Tour as he also won the Buick Open, and is fourth on the money list with more than $4.8 million. Woods' win last week at the American Express Championship was his fifth this year and made him the favorite to win an unprecedented fifth straight player of the year title.

Still, says Furyk, there's enough golf left for someone to make a late run.

``There's still lots that could happen,'' Furyk said Tuesday. ``A guy could get hot and rattle off a couple of wins.''

Furyk's short list of contenders includes Davis Love III with four wins and earnings of $5.5 million, Masters champion and two-time winner Mike Weir, and Vijay Singh, a three-time winner whose earnings of $6.1 million are about $171,000 less than Woods.

Furyk considers himself the long shot, but with Woods, Weir, Love, Singh and most of the other big-name players skipping Las Vegas, he's got a good chance to close the gap.

``I'm not going to lobby for myself with just two wins,'' he said. ``I'd have to be one of those guys that would have to win at least another tournament and probably two to be seriously considered.''

Three of Furyk's nine Tour wins have come in Las Vegas. He won the tournament in 1995 and went back-to-back in 1998 and 1999.

``I'm not sure I'm the stereotypical Vegas person, but I've had a lot of success here,'' he said.

Among the players here are Stuart Appleby and Tim Herron, who along with Singh finished tied for second last week at Atlanta.

After struggling with his game early in the season, Appleby is one of the hottest players on Tour right now with two runner-up finishes in the last month.

``It's like a horse race and I'm trying to make a run across the line,'' Appleby said of the Tour's final weeks. ``I need to keep pushing hard and climb up that list a little higher.''

Appleby finished second here last year, a shot behind Phil Tataurangi. Tataurangi isn't back to defend because he's got a back injury.

The three Las Vegas courses typically give up plenty of low scores -- Tataurangi shot a final-round 62 last year and was 29-under for five rounds. This year likely will be more of the same.

``They are conducive to everybody's game,'' Appleby said. ``If you're a long hitter that's great. If you're a great putter, that's great. Ultimately ... to win you've got to be one of the top two or three putters this week.''

Whether this tournament, first played in 1983, will be part of the Tour next season is in doubt. The tournament does not have a title sponsor and was financed this year by the Las Vegas Founders Club, a nonprofit charitable organization made up of local businesses.

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