Spieth beats Cantlay to win PGA Heritage title

Three-time major winner claims victory with a par on first playoff after final-round shootout


AFP April 18, 2022

WASHINGTON:

Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth defeated Patrick Cantlay with a par on the first playoff hole to win the US PGA Heritage title on Sunday after a final-round shootout.

Spieth pitched from a bunker to within inches of the hole at the par-4 18th and tapped in for par while reigning FedEx Cup champion Cantlay blasted from the same bunker to 25 feet past the cup and couldn't make the long comeback putt to extend the playoff.

"I felt in a good place. Just needed to give myself a chance," Spieth said. "It feels amazing.”

Cantlay could only rue the wind after his 9-iron shot from the fairway followed Spieth's ball into the bunker and plugged.

"It caught a different wind than what I was expecting," Cantlay said. "The wind was supposed to be off the right. I must have caught a little burst.

"Obviously with it plugged like that, it was darn near impossible to get it close."

The Americans each finished 72 holes on 13-under 271 at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

World number 20 Spieth fired a five-under par 66, matching his best final round this year, and sixth-ranked Cantlay shot 68.

Sharing third on 272 after a shootout in which many of them shared the lead were Ireland's Shane Lowry, Australian Cam Davis, Austrian Sepp Straka and Americans JT Poston, Cameron Young, Matt Kuchar and Harold Varner.

Spieth won the 2015 Masters and US Open and the 2017 British Open and can complete a career Grand Slam by winning next month's PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

It was the 16th worldwide victory for Spieth and his 13th US PGA triumph, his first since last April's Texas Open in his home state.

It marked back-to-back Easter Sunday wins for Spieth, who was happy to learn Easter in 2023 is on the final day of the Masters.

"That's good vibes," said Spieth, whose missed cut last week at Augusta National inspired extra effort at the Heritage.

"Last week was really a killer for me. My favorite tournament in the world and not getting to play the weekend," Spieth said. "So I tried to come in here and work a little extra hard this week."

It paid off. Spieth eagled the par-5 second, holing out from a greenside bunker from 57 feet, and par-5 fifth holes, sinking an eagle putt from 24 feet, to grab a share of the lead at 12-under.

From there it was a battle as rivals took turns atop the leaderboard.

South Africa's Erik van Rooyen made four birdies in a row to seize the lead but Spieth answered with a 15-foot birdie putt at the par-4 eighth and Straka and Lowry, the 2019 British Open winner, went on birdie binges to lead at times.

Spieth rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt at the 18th and reached the clubhouse one stroke behind Lowry.

"It felt really good to make the putt on 18 in regulation that mattered there," Spieth said.

"This is one of the worst (rounds) I've ever putted in a tournament I've been in contention in. I just tried to stay really positive with it, be gritty on the back nine. After I missed a couple of short-ish putts I made a really long one on 13 and that settled me back down.

"I think I'm most proud of the way I could have gone pretty negative and it didn't affect it."

Lowry rescued pars at 12 and 13 but went left of the par-3 14th green then chipped across it into water on his way to a double bogey disaster that ended a run of 25 bogey-free holes and left him on 12-under, suddenly in a pack chasing Spieth.

Straka matched Spieth with a birdie at 17 but fell back with a bogey at 18 while Cantlay birdied 17 then missed a birdie putt from just inside 13 feet to win, settling for a playoff.

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