JORDAN Spieth beat Patrick Cantlay on Sunday’s first playoff hole to win the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, SC.
It was the three-time major champion’s first win in 12½ months. He won on Easter Sunday for the second consecutive year after winning his last title at the 2021 Texas Open.
Sunday’s victory came after Spieth fired a 5-under 66 that featured two eagles on the front nine and a birdie at his 72.n/a hole at Harbor Town Golf Links, pushing him to a 13-under 271 with several groups behind him still on the course.
So Spieth waited.
“I was on the inside and I can’t stand watching golf when you’re trying to dodge putts because these guys are so good,” said Spieth, who started the day three shots behind. “Every putt seems to go in. It was just a lot more nerve-wracking than actually playing.”
The only man to match him was Cantlay, the reigning FedEx Cup champion. Cantlay made a 9-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17and to reach 13 under and missed a birdie try at par-4 18andadding up to a final round 68.
Spieth and Cantlay played again on 18and, and both landed in a green-fronted bunker on their second shot. But Spieth stuck his sand shot 7 inches from the cut for a tap-in par, while Cantlay had a plugged ball and hit his shot to the end of the green before failing to save par.
“Same number as in the regulations and hitting a similar shot with the same club,” Cantlay said of his approach. “It obviously caught a different wind than I expected. The wind must have been from the right. If anything, a little down, and I must have caught a little gust. Obviously with that connected like that, it’s damn impossible to approach it.
Spieth went and ran when he came out of a greenside bunker at par-5 second. His other eagle came under a nearly 24-foot putt at the par-5 fifth. He also had two bogeys and three birdies, including a 10-foot putt on the No. 18 to reach 13 under.
It was Spieth’s 13and career victory on the PGA Tour, and it came a week after missing the cut at the Masters for the first time. He had slipped to 20and in the Official World Golf Ranking entering the week.
“It’s a bit of a surprise,” Spieth said of his win. “I really felt like I was putting myself in the hole-by-hole position this week to win a golf tournament, and I was just having a hard time adjusting at the start of the week to the differences in speed compared to the last week. Then the hole started looking small to me yesterday, and then I came out today and said I wasn’t going to leave one putt less.
“And if they miss, they miss, and just try to be a little more aggressive, and have done just enough to cap it and win.”
Seven players tied for third at 12 under, including Harold Varner III and Ireland’s Shane Lowry, who played in the final pair of the day. Varner led the tournament by a shot after 54 holes, but he parried all nine holes in the back nine on Sunday and scored a 1-under 70.
Lowry chained three birdies on holes 4-6 and hit 14 under to hold the lead for a while. But after a wayward tee shot at the par-3 14and, his recovery attempt found the water and he made a double bogey. After missing birdie putts at numbers 16 and 17 that would have drawn him even with Spieth, he finished with a 69.
Also tied for third were Cam Davis of Australia (63), JT Poston (64), Cameron Young (66), Matt Kuchar (68) and Sepp Straka of Austria (68).
England’s Tommy Fleetwood (68) and South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen (70) are tied for 10and at 11 cents. With four straight birdies from the second through fifth holes, van Rooyen took the lead at 14 under, but a series of poorly played shots on the back nine led to four bogeys that put him out of action. — Reuters