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Scott wins Tour Championship after final-round 66

11/5/2006 - Golf

ATLANTA -- Moving his potential closer to promise, Adam Scott had his best year in golf. He wound up third on the PGA Tour
money list, and can move as high as No. 3 in the world ranking over
the next two months.

None of that would have mattered without a PGA Tour victory.

Scott took care of that missing piece Sunday in the Tour
Championship by holding off every challenge that came his way,
closing with a 4-under 66 to win the season finale by three shots
over Jim Furyk.

"You can't be that [No.] 3 or 4 player in the world without
winning tournaments," Scott said. "That shouldn't happen. I feel
more comfortable in that position seeing I've won an event."

He won convincingly at the PGA Tour's version of an All-Star
game.

Staked to a three-shot lead on a cool, colorful afternoon of
autumn at East Lake, he sank a slick, 15-foot birdie putt on No. 3
to turn back an early threat from Vijay Singh. When he saw Furyk
and Joe Durant make a move, Scott responded with three birdies in a
four-hole stretch around the turn.

For good measure, he turned bogey into birdie by holing a bunker
shot on the 13th.

"That was a chance for us to pick up a shot, and we ended up
losing a shot," Furyk said. "A guy gets a three- or four-shot
lead and he keeps making birdies, he's tough to catch."

Scott finished at 11-under 269 and earned $1.17 million to
finish his PGA Tour season with nearly $5 million. With tournaments
coming up in Australia, he will have a chance to surpass Phil Mickelson at No. 3 in the world ranking by the end of the year.

Furyk shot a 65 to match low round of the week, but never got
closer than two strokes and trailed by as many as five on the back
nine.

He played bogey-free golf over his final 31 holes, and it was
meaningful. Furyk captured the Vardon Trophy for the first time
with the lowest adjusted scoring average on tour at 68.86.

Scott was second at 68.95.

Tiger Woods had the lowest average (68.11), but failed to play
the required 60 rounds. Woods skipped the Tour Championship for the
first time, although he still would have come up one round short
even if he had played.

"I'm wondering if anyone is going to put an asterisk on it
because Tiger didn't play enough rounds," Furyk said. "But it's a
nice honor. It's icing on the cake for a good year and a consistent
year."

Durant closed with a 67 to finish third at 273 and end his
season with a stunning turnaround. He was worried about keeping his
card three months ago, then finished the year with five straight
top-10 finishes, including a victory at Disney. He wound up 13th on
the money list, making him eligible for all four majors next year.

Those consolation prizes were the best anyone could hope for.

"We just couldn't get anywhere near him, really," Durant said.

Scott has been regarded as one of the game's best young players
since he turned pro at age 19, but he had stretches where he
vanished. His goal this year was to be more consistent, and he
couldn't argue with the results. He had nine top-10s -- six of those
finishes no worse than third -- coming into the Tour Championship.

After missing the cut last week at Innisbrook, he fixed his
flaws on the range this week with coach Butch Harmon, then ran away
from the 27-man field at the Tour Championship.

It was his fourth career PGA Tour victory, and it earned him the
last spot at Kapalua for the winners-only Mercedes-Benz
Championship that starts the 2007 season in 61 days.

"It's been a long time since I've been here, winning on the PGA
Tour," Scott said. "I had to work hard for it."

The next step is contending in the majors, and eventually moving
closer to Woods.

"It might take awhile," Scott said. "But I think if I was to
be No. 1 in the world at some point in my career, then I think that
would be maybe the best achievement I could ever do in golf, to get
past Tiger Woods."

Scott's performance was so strong that hundreds of fans headed
for the parking lot when he made the turn with a three-shot lead,
and no one got any closer the rest of the way.

But there were plenty of people left to rock East Lake with
cheers when Scott holed his bunker shot on the 13th hole, sending a
message down the 14th fairway that Furyk and Durant could not
ignore.

"I looked at Jim and we both kind of laughed," Durant said.
"We didn't have to say it, but we both knew it. That was game, set
and match as far as the winner."

Scott never felt that way.

Even with a three-shot lead at the start of the final round,
Scott didn't expect smooth sailing with five players from the top
10 in the world lined up behind him. Sure enough, there were a few
moments early in the final round where it could have gone either
way.

Singh opened with a 12-foot birdie and made a 15-foot par save
on the next hole, seemingly a sign that his putter was going to
behave for him. On the downwind third hole, Singh hit a sand wedge
to within 5 feet and was poised to get within one shot, especially
with Scott facing a 15-footer straight down the slope.

Scott holed the birdie putt, Singh missed and the lead was back
to three.

Singh ended up with a 72 that left him nine strokes back.

Durant and Furyk both birdied the seventh to get within two
shots, and Scott responded with his string of birdies, ending with
a 4-iron into 10 feet on the 10th.

The next step for Scott is contending in a major. For now, he
will have to settle for winning two of the PGA Tour's elite events
-- The Players Championship two years ago, and the Tour
Championship.