Jordan Spieth Returns to The Winner’s Circle in South Carolina
Jordan Spieth overcame a moment of madness to capture his 13th PGA Tour title and first of the new golfing season.
Spieth missed an outrageously short putt on the final hole of his third round, which looked likely to destabilize his winning ambition.
He conquered via a playoff against Patrick Cantlay, as the Californian remains winless for the current campaign.
When Stewart Cink captured his third RBC Heritage victory during last season, he triumphed with a winning score of -19 and a winning margin of four strokes.
Typically, this event can produce scores that go low, but that was not the case for the 2022 edition.
Cameron Young, who introduced himself to the golfing world at The Genesis Invitational, set the early pace with a marvelous 63 that included eight birdies and no blemishes.
Zach Johnson, who would withdraw after his opening round, was one behind Young with 64, whilst Joaquin Niemann (65), Patrick Cantlay (66) and Shane Lowry (66) remained tightly tucked behind.
The Friday could not produce the same level of scoring as the opening day, as Cantlay’s score of 67 was matched by Erik van Rooyen, Cameron Tringale, Joel Dahmen, Robert Streb and Camilo Villegas for the lowest of the field.
Saturday saw a resurgence from Harold Varner III and Tommy Fleetwood, as the duo looked to threaten the leaders with scores of 63 and 64 respectively.
Graeme McDowell, who opened with 66 before producing a sub-standard 76, responded strongly with another 66.
It was during the third round where Spieth had lost his concentration briefly, which resulted in a needless three-putt when he had a good look at birdie.
At that time, he was three behind Varner heading into the final round with plenty of work to do – which he was certainly up for.
Varner is yet to win on the PGA Tour, and after a strong performance at The Players Championship, he must have thought this would be his time.
Starting the day with a one-stroke advantage – and three ahead of Fleetwood and Spieth – he knew he’d need to go low for victory.
Cam Davis shot the lowest score of the day with 63, which helped him finish on -12 and only one shot away from the eventual winner.
Spieth, who unbelievably threw away a stroke on the previous day, needed to score positively if he was to slash the deficit between him and Varner.
Through five holes, the three-time major champion was four-under after eagling both the second and fifth holes – which were both par-5s.
He acquired another birdie at the par-4 8th before he would hand it back immediately at the following hole.
At this time, Lowry was three-under throughout his front nine and after another birdie on 11, the Irishman looked set to post a competitive score.
Golf can be such a demanding sport, that one moment of lost concentration can be the difference between championing a course and being embarrassed by one.
For Lowry, the latter struck as he double-bogeyed the par-3 14th to finish on -12 and only one short adrift of the leading duo.
For Varner, it was a disappointing day that only yielded two birdies and a sole bogey, although that was not enough to trouble Cantlay or Spieth.
Cantlay was steady throughout his final round – which is a trait that has been synonymous with the Californian – producing a three-under 68 to match Spieth’s leading score of -13.
Spieth was already in the clubhouse before Cantlay had finished on the 18th green, and he had managed to squeeze his way into the co-lead following a birdie on the 72nd hole of his tournament.
There was a seven-way tie for T3, with all players only just a single stroke behind the leaders.
Only one playoff hole was needed to separate the top two, and it ultimately came down to who had the better bunker game.
Spieth managed to finesse his bunker shot from 56 feet to seven inches, whilst Cantlay’s whizzed past the hole and he failed to make the subsequent par putt.
The last victory to come from Spieth was the Valero Texas in April last year, and he’ll be looking to secure more with three majors on the horizon.
The next event is the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, you can read our preview here.