Harold Varner III led the RBC Heritage through 54 holes by a single stroke in 11-under-par but with 12 players within three of his lead we were always going to get a funky final round.
Early starters J.T Poston and Cam Davies had begun the day trailing by six and seven shots respectively but they both got on a roll before the leaders had even warmed up and as it transpired, they very nearly did enough to make it to extra time.
Davies posted the best round of the day – an eight-under-par 63 – and shortly after the Aussie had signed his card, Poston birdied the 18th to join him in the clubhouse on 12-under-par, thanks to a seven-under 64, but it never really looked like being enough.
Having birdied four of his first five holes, Erik Van Rooyen reached 14-under-par and he was matched at a low of 2.77/4 when he led the field by two strokes with two thirds of his round still to play but the wheels fell off after that and the South African eventually finished tied for 10th on 11-under-par.
This was a tournament that a host of players will feel they should have won and as many as seven players ended the week alongside Poston and Davies on -12 and just one shot short.
The third-round leader, Varner, parred every hole on the back-nine, Austria’s Sepp Straka bogeyed the 18th from the fairway to drop back to -12, and pre-event 28.027/1 chance, Shane Lowry, hit a low of 1.51/2 before he had a nightmare on the tricky par three 14th, chipping into the water with his second shot.
Sunday drama is building @RBC_Heritage.
Shane Lowry finds the water with his chip on 14 and makes double bogey to fall out of the lead. pic.twitter.com/R5uGkdW408
? PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 17, 2022
Jordan Spieth eagled both the par five second and fifth holes to throw his hat in the ring but his putting woes continued. He’d ended round three with a bogey five having missed his par putt from 18 inches and there were a couple of clumsy moments on Sunday. He missed par putts from three feet on nine and five on 11 but that didn’t stop him from rolling in his birdie putt on 18 from ten feet.
Spieth, who was matched at a high of 160.0159/1 in-running, having gone off at around 50.049/1, was matched at 1.84/5 after his round as we waited to see who else would get to -13.
It looked highly likely that others would join him on -13 but in the end only one man did – Patrick Cantlay.
A birdie at 17 saw the pre-event 24.023/1 chance draw alongside Spieth and he gave himself a chance to win in regulation play when his approach at 18 left him 12 feet for a birdie three.
Lowry and co will see this as one that got away, but Cantlay will be kicking himself the hardest today. He missed his birdie putt in regulation then made a complete mess of the playoff.
Both men hit decent drives before Spieth hit his approach into the greenside bunker – although he thought at the time he’d gone in the water! The door was wide open for Cantlay, who was matched at a low of 1.21/5, but instead of making sure he found the green with an eight iron from 180 yards out, Cantlay hit a hard nine iron that didn’t make the green.
Cantlay’s approach plunged from the sky and plugged in the same bunker as Spieth had found moments earlier, but the two lies were vastly different. Spieth chipped up to a few inches and tapped in the par putt, but poor Cantlay third shot left him 35 feet for par.
Incredibly, Spieth’s priced bounced around on the exchange at odds of around 1.121/8 after Cantlay’s third shot and as expected, he couldn’t extend the playoff. The par putt sailed by, and Spieth had won on Easter Sunday for the second year-in-a-row.
It was Spieth’s first victory since the birth of his first son and he was understandably emotional after the win.
“Last week was really a killer for me. My favourite tournament in the world (the US Masters), not getting to play on the weekend, so I tried to come in and work a little extra hard this week, and game felt in a good place, just needed to give myself a chance and it felt really good to make a putt that mattered on 18 in regulation.”
Spieth was then asked what he was most proud of in terms of his performance.
“Well, I won this golf tournament without a putter!”
He wasn’t wrong. Spieth’s putting stats really were incredible. In addition to the statistic below, he ranked 37th for putts Per round, 40th for Putting Average and 60th for Strokes Gained Putting but he did rank first for Strokes Gained Tee-2-Green, ninth for Greens In Regulation and sixth for the critical Scrambling stat.
Jordan Spieth ended this week with -2.55 strokes gained putting.
It was the worst SG putting number by a player in a PGA Tour win since Sean O’Hair in 2009 at Quail Hollow (-3.29).
? Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) April 18, 2022
Can lightning strike a third time?
Spieth won the Valero Texas Open on Easter Sunday last year, the RBC this year and we’ll be at Augusta on Easter Sunday next year. Can he complete a very unusual hat-trick and win the US Masters for a second time? I wouldn’t bet against it.
The DP World Tour returns this week with the ISPS Handa Championship in Spain, and we’ve got the Zurich Classic on the PGA Tour to look forward to too. I’ll be back tomorrow with the previews.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter