Jordan Spieth wins RBC Heritage in playoffs for second straight Easter Sunday title victory

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC — Thinking he might have a chance to make the playoffs, Jordan Spieth birdied 10 feet on the regulation 18th hole. He hit an even bigger shot at Harbor Town’s signature hole in a playoff to win the RBC Heritage.

Spieth’s 56-foot shot from a greenside bunker stopped 7 inches out and he beat Patrick Cantlay with a tap-in Sunday on the lighthouse hole for his 13th career PGA Tour title – and second consecutive on Easter Sunday.

Sometimes, says Spieth, there’s a tournament where you feel you’ve played well, but not enough to win. “Honestly, I felt like it was that week,” he said with a smile. “I needed a lot of things to be okay.”

And he got them all.

Spieth, at 13 under after his 5 under 66, finished four groups ahead of Cantlay and waited for the stellar field who had several opportunities to tie or move ahead. But all but Cantlay couldn’t chase down Spieth, who refrained from watching the action too much once he was done.

“Every putt seems to go in,” Spieth said. “It was way more nerve-wracking than playing.”

Spieth was certain he would be passed by Cantlay, FedEx Cup champion, former Open Championship winner Shane Lowry or third-round leader Harold Varner III. When all three parried the par-5 15th, the best birdie chance on the back nine, Spieth felt his chances improving.

When Spieth finished, he was one shot behind Lowry. But Lowry’s chip on the par-3 14th ran across the green and into the water, leading to a double bogey. He finished one stroke back after a 69.

After Cantlay, who was tied for the lead after a birdie on the 17th, hit his approach onto the green on his last regulation hole, Spieth went off to relax, certain he would be recalled after Cantlay made the putt. winner.

Instead, Cantlay swiped it from the right to set up the playoffs.

In the playoffs, Cantlay also hit in the front bunker, his lie looking like a fried egg. He went 35 feet past the cut and missed the par putt.

Cantlay was 179 yards out in the playoffs and used a 9-iron as he had shortly before in regulation. This shot came short of the green and in a terrible position.

“Obviously with it plugged in like that, it’s damn impossible to get near him,” Cantlay said.

Three shots behind Varner early in the round, Spieth made the first two par-5s to get into the mix.

Spieth had won his last event, the Valero Texas Open, over Easter to end a four-year winless drought.

Next Easter Sunday? The Masters final.

“It’s a good atmosphere,” said Spieth, a three-time major champion, including the Masters in 2015.

Cam Davis (63) was also a comeback hit along with Varner (70), JT Poston (64), Cameron Young (66), Sepp Straka (68) and Matt Kuchar (68).

Spieth has already won from the bunker. He beat Daniel Berger with a greenside bunker shot on the first extra hole at the 2017 Travelers Championship.

Others than Cantlay, who missed a 15-footer for a birdie on his 72nd hole, had a chance to catch Spieth. Straka tied Spieth at 13 under with a birdie on the 17th, then bogeyed the final hole after his approach found long, gnarled grass in front of the green. Varner had birdie chances on each of his last four holes, but couldn’t convert any.

Spieth took off with the first eagles. On the second hole, he came out of a bunker on the green side. On the fifth hole, he hit the green in two and rolled into a 24-footer as the gallery erupted in cheers.

Spieth reached 13 under with a birdie in the eighth before falling back to 11 under with bogeys in the ninth and 11th. He got into striking position with a birdie on 13, then hit his approach to the drama-filled lighthouse hole from 10 feet and birdie putt to reach 13 under.

He came in this week annoyed to miss the cut last week at Augusta National. “I hated it,” he said. “It was the worst feeling. It was the worst feeling as a golfer that I can remember.”

It turned around in Harbor Town to a happy, sold-out crowd who Spieth said were four deep in their pro-am round on Wednesday.

“I was actually really surprised by the amount of support everyone had this week, and I felt a lot of that personally,” Spieth said. “These crowds were just fantastic because it was a non-major.”

Spieth had only played the tournament three times since 2015 as he falls after the always grueling Masters week.

“What a great tournament to win,” said Spieth. “It’s an amazing golf course.”

Alicia R. Rucker