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Jim Furyk wins Sun City title in playoff

Jim Furyk chipped in for birdie on the second extra hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the 25th Sun City Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club on Sunday.

American Furyk holed out from 15 feet from just off the back of the green at the par-four 18th, edging out Briton Darren Clarke and Australia's Adam Scott to capture the $1.2 million first prize.

Four players, including 2004 winner Retief Goosen, had contested the playoff after completing the 72 holes of regulation in six-under 282.

South African Goosen, the world number four, went out on the first extra hole after a bogey.

"It's been a year of close calls and I've lost two playoffs," a beaming Furyk told reporters.

"I also lost the Westchester tournament after making a few bogeys coming in. Padraig Harrington holed a 70-footer on 18 to beat me by one so there were a lot of times when I walked off the 18th green disappointed this year.

"At one stage, this tournament was sizing up to look like that after I bogeyed the last hole and gave two guys the opportunity to beat me," added the 2003 U.S. Open champion.

"I was fortunate to be in the playoff and have things go my way. I'm relieved to see a positive outcome because I've had a lot of negatives."

Furyk, who started the day at six under and one stroke behind leaders Tim Clark of South Africa, Argentine Angel Cabrera and Scott, carded a final-round 72, which included a bogey on the 18th.

Cabrera, who set a course-record 64 on Friday, returned a disappointing 80 to drop out of contention on a difficult day for scoring with breezes and tough pin positions.

Northern Ireland's Clarke seemed to be out of the running but finished strongly with a birdie at the 16th and then holed a wedge from 110 yards for birdie at 17th.

That was enough to get him into the playoff after carding 69 -- one of only two players to return a sub-70 round.

Scott shot 73 and Goosen 72, underlining the difficulty the players had with scoring over the 7,800-yard course.

The 35-year-old Furyk was the most consistent performer in the early stages of the final round and went out in 34 strokes to lead the field by two shots at one stage.

But bogeys on the par-three 12th, the par-four 15th and the 18th saw him slip back to the field.

Four years ago, Furyk disqualified himself from the tournament after realising he had made a mistake during a round when he lifted and placed his ball against regulations.

His gesture to continue playing the last two rounds, despite not being able to place in the field, endeared him to the South African fans. Hardly surprisingly, he was a popular winner on Sunday.

"After six visits here, I was starting to feel like I'd never win at Sun City," Furyk said.

"I had a great lie for that chip (in the playoff) and knew I could be aggressive, but I was only worried about getting the speed right. The last thing I wanted was a six-footer to stay in the playoff.

"I had to be sure that it would die somewhere near the hole and it looked great six or seven feet out.

"But I've had a lot of close calls so I waited until it got a lot closer before I got happy. It had a big break, probably two or three feet from left to right."

World number five Ernie Els, making his first tournament appearance since the British Open in July following knee surgery, finished ninth in the 12-man field on two-over 290 after a closing 75.

December 4, 2005

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