Reliving the Epic Seven-Hole Playoff Battle Between Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk in 2001

Published 08/10/2021, 4:30 PM EDT
AUGUSTA, GA – APRIL 12: Tiger Woods of the United States watches his tee shot on the first hole during the final round of the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2015 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)


The 2001 WGC-NEC Invitational is one of the greatest World Golf Championships events ever played. Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk played 79 holes before Tiger won the event in the sudden-death playoff. The two players battled it out neck-to-neck, but eventually, as always, Tiger Woods delivered when it mattered. 

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Firestone Country Club Ohio was the host of the event. Tiger Woods had already won the event twice before in 2000 and 1999. The then world No.1 Tiger Woods remained below Jim Furyk throughout three rounds but peaked at the right moment to finish T1 after 72-holes. Meanwhile, it was agony for Jim Furyk who could not close out that lead that he’d been carrying for three days. 

Re-living the Tiger vs Furyk playoff at the 2001 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational

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DORAL, FL – MARCH 06: Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the seventh hole during the first round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral on March 6, 2014 in Doral, Florida. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Woods had a decent start to his round as he finished T3 after round one, while Jim Furyk carded a -5, 65 to remain at the top. But everyone knows Tiger is a slow starter and picks his game up going into the weekend. And in round two, he made progress as he remained T2 with Phil Mickelson and scored 67 to remain -7 for the tournament. 

However, Jim Furyk kept his top spot with a two-shot lead and continued his dominance. In the third round, Jim maintained his two-shot lead, while Tiger stood solo second. Moreover, he was ahead of the third-placed player by three strokes. So, it was clear that the winner on the final day would be either Furyk or Woods. 

But even after playing 72 holes, there was no clear winner as both Jim and Tiger were tied for first place. And this forced a playoff between the two best players on the PGA Tour. But not many had anticipated the drama that was going to unfold in the playoff.

Tiger Woods held on and secured victory after seven holes

ORLANDO, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 20: Tiger Woods of the United States hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the PNC Championship at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club on December 20, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Woods and Furyk played the playoff on the 18th and 17th holes. Tiger and Jim started on the 18th, where Furyk made an extraordinary par to force another playoff. Jim’s approach shot (2nd) landed in the bunker, and unfortunately, he could not get the ball out of the bunker in one stroke. But he did something magical as he holed the ball from the bunker and saved an unbelievable par. 

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However, in the second playoff hole on the 17th, Jim missed a birdie putt by an inch and tapped in for a par. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods had a right-to-left breaking par putt of about 10 ft. Which he made and forced another playoff hole. 

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Back to the 18th hole for the 3rd playoff, both these players once again made pars. And the playoff continued similarly for three holes as each time both players made pars. But, on the 7th playoff, which was on the 18th hole, Jim hit a wayward tee shot which forced him a bogey. However, Tiger Woods flushed his pitching wedge from the middle of the fairway and dropped the ball around 3ft from the flag. He then tapped in for a birdie and eventually won the event for a straight third time. 

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Amey Kulkarni

275 articles

Amey Kulkarni is a Golf writer at EssentiallySports. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in mass media. Before joining EssentiallySports he used to write articles on Golf and Cricket on his personal blog cricgolf.

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