ATLANTA — The biggest shot of his career gave Jim Furyk the biggest payoff in golf.
Clinging to a one-shot lead, with a $10 million bonus riding on the outcome, Furyk nearly holed a bunker shot and knocked in the 2½-foot par putt he had left to win the Tour Championship and capture a FedEx Cup that came down to the very last hole.
Furyk closed with an even-par 70 and a one-shot victory over Luke Donald in a steady rain at East Lake.
Donald, who chipped in from 100 feet for birdie on the 17th hole to keep his hopes alive, was waiting in the scoring trailer when Furyk hit his hybrid on the 230-yard closing hole into the bunker. A bogey would mean a sudden-death playoff to decide the FedEx Cup.
It was the 16th career victory for Furyk, but none that ended like this.
When he rapped in his short par putt with his back turned backward, he plucked the ball out of the cup, just like always. Then, he dropped his putter and fired the ball over the grandstands behind the 18th green, and thrust his right arm into the air as he screamed with delight.
Furyk earned $1.35 million for winning the tournament, and $10 million from the FedEx Cup.
In its fourth year, it was by far the most riveting finale of the FedEx Cup. With an hour to go, the five players who had a chance to win the cup included Nick Watney, who started the week as the No. 28 seed in a 30-man field.
It was all in Furyk’s hands when he birdied the 15th to build a three-shot lead, and Paul Casey bogeyed the 17th hole ahead of him. But Furyk had to scramble for bogey on the 16th, couldn’t reach the green on the 17th and made another bogey as he watched his lead slip to a single shot playing one of the toughest holes at East Lake.
The sand shot could pay off in more ways than a big bonus. It was the third victory of the year for Furyk, which could be enough for him to be voted PGA Tour player of the year. No one else haswon more than twice.
The $10 million should at least help buy the greatest alarm clock ever made.
Furyk was the No. 3 seed when the playoffs began, but was disqualified from the opener when he missed his pro-am time at The Barclays because the battery died in his cell phone, which he used for an alarm.
In the end, Furyk joined Tiger Woods as the only FedEx Cup champions to miss the first playoff event — Woods in 2007 because he didn’t want to play, Furyk this year because he couldn’t.
Furyk also became the first player to be outside the top 10 in the standings at the Tour Championship to win. Matt Kuchar, the No. 1 seed, shot a 71 and tied for 25th. This Sunday was so bizarre that Kuchar still had a chance to win the FedEx Cup.
Kuchar wound up second in the FedEx Cup and earns a $3 million bonus. Donald, who closed with a 70, moved up to third in the standings and picked up an extra $2 million.
Retief Goosen also had a chance at East Lake until a bogey on the 17th. He shot a 71 and finished alone in third at the Tour Championship. Watney (67) and Casey (69) tied for fourth.