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Joe Durant wins fall finish

Joe Durant walked away from East Lake Golf Club lugging a giant crystal vase and an extra half-million dollars.

Quite a change from where he was a few months ago.

Once faced with the possibility of losing his PGA Tour card, Durant closed out a stunning turnaround by finishing third Sunday in the season-ending Tour Championship.

He was no lower than sixth over his last five tournaments, holding off Jim Furyk to win the 11-tourney Fall Finish and its $500,000 bonus. Troy Matteson, who didn't qualify for the elite field in Atlanta, wound up third.

"It just kind of came out of the blue, to be honest with you," Durant said. "I've just played very well the last month and a half, two months. I made a lot of putts and seemed to not get in my way a lot, which is a pleasant change."

He missed the cut in five of his first 19 tournaments this year, with only one finish higher than 36th. Adding to the misery, a thief snatched his briefcase, laptop and other electronic items from his hotel room in Milwaukee.

The following week, Durant got things rolling with a third-place finish in the Buick Open. He won at Disney two weeks ago to crack the top 30 on the money list, and made sure he kept his spot in the Tour Championship by tying for fourth at Innisbrook last weekend.

"I'm pretty tired right now," Durant said. "I hate to see it end, but hopefully I can kind of pick up (in 2007) where I'm leaving off."

He closed with a 3-under 67 at East Lake, four strokes behind winner Adam Scott. Durant finished 13th on the money list with more than $2.8 million, the best year of his career. In 2001, Durant was No. 14 with earnings of just under $2.4 million.

"I hate to see the year end, but I'm looking forward to next year," he said. "I kind of need to stay on top of things a little bit and just keep working."

November 7, 2006

 




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