Saturday, 24 February 2024

Golf: | Fitzpatrick edges past Spieth in playoff at RBC Heritage

Updated on Monday, April 17, 2023 20:55 PM IST
Fitzpatrick edges past Spieth in playoff at RBC Heritage

Hilton Head Island (USA): England's Matt Fitzpatrick halted defending champion Jordan Spieth's attempt to successfully defend the RBC Heritage title on the third playoff hole and pick his first victory since the U.S. Open last June.

Fitzpatrick trailed Spieth by two with five holes to play but made birdies on the 15th and 16th holes to tie for the lead at 17-under.

On the third playoff hole, Fitzpatrick hit his 9-iron to within 1 foot on the closing lighthouse hole to set up the winning birdie.

American Indian Sahith Theegala, fresh from his Top-10 finish at the Masters, where he was ninth, shot 65 and was tied fifth with Hayden Buckley.

Fitzpatrick thus won on the Pete Dye course he used to play on as a child on vacation.

Spieth had his chances on the first two play-off holes but things did not go his way. He raised his putter in triumph before watching his 12-foot birdie putt catch the right edge and come out the first time on the 18th. Then Spieth's 9-foot birdie attempt stopped on the right edge at the 17th hole, where the second playoff hole was played.

There was no doubt about the final hole as Fitzpatrick, from 187 yards out, hit the front of the green and watched the ball settle next to the hole. Spieth's attempt from 26 feet away rolled past and Fitzpatrick tapped in for the victory.

Fitzpatrick won $3.6 million from the elevated purse of $20 million in the sixth designated event of the year on the PGA Tour, topping a field that included seven of the world's top 10 players.

The third-round leader by one shot, Fitzpatrick closed with a 3-under 68 and matched Spieth at 17-under 267. Spieth had his second straight 66.

Patrick Cantlay playing with Fitzpatrick and Spieth, was third after a 68 left him at 16-under. Cantlay lost this title in a playoff to Spieth a year ago. Xander Schauffele was another stroke behind after a 66.

Scottie Scheffler, No. 2 in the world, shot 70 and was tied for 11th at 12-under. Masters champion Jon Rahm ended with a 68 and was tied for 15th before taking a well-earned week off.

Fitzpatrick played a stretch of nine holes in 1 over as Spieth looked set to win before he bogeyed the par-3 14th. Fitzpatrick seized the chance with consecutive birdies on the 15th and 16th. The pair was tied until Fitzpatrick's remarkable approach on the winning hole.

Cantlay, so close a year ago, lost his chance at victory with consecutive bogeys on the 13th and 14th holes.

Masters champion Rahm set his sights high on winning the plaid jacket given to winners here to go with the green one he brought to Sea Pines Resort. He shot 1-over 72 Thursday and that set him back. He could never get going despite finishing in the 60s in the last three rounds.