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Furyk plays to his strengths for Hilton Head triumph

By Doug Weaver
  • Jim Furyk calls on all his experience to claim second PGA Tour win of season
  • Ryder Cup star Furyk kept the ball on the fairway and cut out loose shots
  • His nearest challenger Brian Davis made a hash of the first playoff hole
  • Furyk missed the cut at the U.S. Masters but rebounded with a superb win
  • Jim Furyk
  • Brian Davis
  • Golf
  • PGA Tour

(CNN) -- Jim Furyk wins his 15th PGA Tour event with his veteran wisdom, patience and skill.

Furyk, who is on his way to the possible Golf Hall of Fame, shot a two-under 69 and defeated Brian Davis in a playoff, who tied him with a 68 in a match-play style victory at Harbour Town Golf Links.

Starting on the final round wiht a one-shot lead and 15 players within three shots, Furyk played strategic golf being on the defense with the tough pins and windy conditions and playing offensive golf when opportunities presented themselves.

Lessons I learned while watching this final round duel are:

1. Play to your strengths

2. Half swings tend to go to the left

3. Selective memory is a very important

4. Be patient

5. New grooves take getting used to

Play to your strengths

Furyk's average drive is 265 yards compared to the leaders at 309 yards. Harbour Town is a tight course requiring shot making and scrambling skills. His year to date ranking is No.2 scrambler behind Luke Donald who finished 3rd three shots back.

Scrambling requires a bulldog's tenacity and a surgeon's touch. You scramble well when you miss the fairway with your drive or iron and you look at your next shot with unchanged emotions and go get the ball out of trouble into a position that plays to your strengths.

I encourage my students to practice the 100 yard shot. I liken them unto a free throw in basketball. Many games come down to who makes the highest percentage of free throws.The free throw is the same in New York as it is in Chicago. Michael Jordon often shot them with his eyed closed. He practiced it so much that it became a feel.

If you miss the fairway be patient consider bumping out to the 100-yard marker and taking your dependable, practiced wedge and place it close to the pin for a 10 or less handicapper. For the 11 Handicapper and above make your goal getting on the green 90% of the time.

On the range take four towels and place them 15 steps away from the 100-yard pin creating a green appearance. Count out your range balls in piles of five like Ben Hogan did. Record how many shots are on the green. Count how many are to the left and to the right. Repeat the process. Take the results to your local PGA Professional and allow them to analyze it and if needed give you corrective suggestions.

Half swings tend to go left

Brian Davis was captured by course designer Pete Dye's craftiness. On the playoff hole number 18 the pin was tucked in the front left corner with severe hazard left and deep bunker short. He was 174 yards with a right to left wind and very similar to the shot he had in regulation at 179 yards.

He wanted birdie for the playoff. He played a 7-iron as before but may have not kept his body turning resulting in a little pull draw and the wind taking the ball to the hazard.

Half and three quarter finesse swings still require that your body assertively keeps rotating and leading the swing, keeping the clubface square or even open avoiding the early release or the pull shot.

Also choke down one inch to take distance away and swing the same. Shorter clubs give shorter shots.

Regulate your backswing with your stance

Know that an open stance shortens your backswing resulting in shorter shots

Brian Davis can rest that this gut-wrenching shot in the pressure has also captured, the following: Darren Clark, Boo Weekley and Jose Coeceres in the final stretch.

Selective memory is important

Jim Furyk missed the cut at the Masters with an 80 and a 76. When interviewed early in the week he responded that he understands where he went wrong and has corrected it.

At Augusta he was trying to hit long drives and therefore, missed fairways. He stated during Heritage week that he is always in the top ten for driving accuracy.

He choose to forget last week and choose to remember his long-term performance as an accurate driver and it paid off hitting 43 of 56 fairways {76%} placing him ninth in that category.

Driving well set up the greens in regulation category hitting 61% of the greens and finishing 17th.

A key category is proximity to the hole where he finished first. This means hit stuck it close.

Be patient

Jim Furyk showed patience coming down the finishing holes forcing Davis to play his shot. Davis responded well on the 72nd hole, almost holing it out and setting up a ten-foot birdie to tie putt. However, on the 70th hole another 3/4 finesse shot to a sucker pin that Furyk played away from, Davis left it in the bunker and did not save par. While Furyk patiently lagged a 40 footer for a conservative par.

On the playoff hole Davis had the honors on the 174-yard approach. He attacked the pin. He pulled left allowing Furyk to play smart to the right and avoid any problems. Furyk got up and down to win,

New grooves take getting used too

Brian Davis noted that he was still not used to the new grooves on his irons. Two shots that he mentioned, routine wedge shots from 105 yards and 95 yards both in the light rough. He swung with uncertainty and missed both greens leaving the ball short anticipating a flyer. A flyer is when the grass in the rough gets in between the grooves and the ball. the square grooves would displace the grass and grab on to the ball creating the extra spin. the new grooves are less effective at this resulting sometimes in a shot that explodes with extra distance called a flyer.

Doug Weaver is the PGA Director of Instruction at Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy in Hilton Head, South Carolina.