Golf Comment: Plenty years left in Gentleman Jim

 
Sam Torrance
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Jim Furyk ended his five-year title drought at the RBC Heritage event
NOBODY was happier than me to see the evergreen Jim Furyk triumph at the RBC Heritage on Sunday, ending the American’s five-year wait for a 17th tournament win on the PGA Tour.

I’ve come across him many times in my career and played against him in the Ryder Cup and can attest that there isn’t a nicer man in the game. He’s an absolute gentleman, and also fit as a butcher’s dog.

He might even have won at the weekend without needing a play-off. World No257 Kevin Kisner had other ideas and levelled with a birdie at 18, but Furyk made great birdies himself to win at the second extra hole.

The 44-year-old has a very functional swing, memorably described by David Feherty as like “an octopus falling out of a tree”, but if you break it down from halfway though the downswing it is as good as it gets.

More importantly, he sticks with what he has got rather than endlessly tinkering, and that ability to repeat – allied to his fitness and tireless work ethic – has helped him maintain such consistency.

Only one man in the world’s top 50 is older than Furyk, yet his latest win has lifted him back up to fifth. Who knows how long he can go on for, but it’s worth remembering Jack Nicklaus won his last Major aged 46.

He is 100 per cent certain to be a future Ryder Cup captain, but given that he qualified as a player for last year’s contest, he will fancy his chances of making the United States team again in 2016.

TESTAMENT
Credit must also go to Kisner, who went closer than he ever has to winning on the PGA Tour. He may have finished second but it lifted him into the world’s top 125 and could be a stepping stone to greater things.

There was another close finish on the European Tour’s Shenzhen International event, which was won at the first hole of a play-off by Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

The 25-year-old is a great character who has had to overcome the loss of his coach in 2013, and made a fantastic shot to within 12 feet at the 72nd hole to help tie with teenager Li Hao-Tong.

The event itself is testament to outgoing European Tour chief George O’Grady and his efforts to broaden the reach and appeal of the tour by establishing co-sanctioned tournaments in Asia and beyond.

Without that, Aphibarnrat may not have won two European Tour titles and might have been denied the bigger stage that he, and the very promising Li, undoubtedly deserve.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam