Fitzpatrick’s Birdie on Third Playoff Hole Defeats Spieth in 55th RBC Heritage

Matt Fitzpatrick of England kept Jordan Spieth from repeating himself.

Fitzpatrick, the reigning U.S. Open champion, hit a brilliant approach shot from 127 yards to a foot and sank the birdie put to defeat defending champion Spieth in the 55th RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Spieth won the tournament last season when he beat Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA with a par on the first extra hole.

“I think I can retire now,” Fitzpatrick said jokingly after claiming the ninth victory of his pro career and second on the PGA Tour. “Yeah, this one is the one that I’ve always wanted to win. Any golf tournament, you know, other than the majors, of course, there isn’t a higher one on my list than to win this one, and that’s the truth. It’s hard to describe. It doesn’t get much better than this.

“Obviously Jordan got off to a fast start doing Jordan Spieth things on hole No. 1, so I just felt I had to be real patient. I felt every putt Jordan hit was going in. Certainly when I’ve played well, that’s a real strength of mine. To be a winner here, every year I’ve driven down the drive and you see the winners here and I’ve always thought, ‘I want to be one of those,’ and here I am.

“I feel so far, I’ve been very lucky in my career. I’ve won a major and now this.”

Fitzpatrick, who visited Harbour Town with his family as a youngster, led by one stroke entering the final round, but Spieth took the lead by making four birdies on the first six holed and stayed in front the rest of the way en route to a 5-under-par 66 despite making two late bogeys.

However, Fitzpatrick sank birdie putts of 10 feet on the 15th hole and five feet on the 16th on his way to a 68 to catch Spieth at 17-under-par 267.

Spieth seemed to have won the first playoff hole, but his 12-foot birdie putt lipped out, and both players again made par on the second extra hole before Spieth missed his 30-footer ahead of Fitzpatrick tapping in the winner.

“I don’t know how the putt on the first playoff hole didn’t go in,” said Spieth, who was seeking his 14th PGA Tour victory. “I think if I hit the same putt 10 times, it goes in eight times. It should go left at the very end there on the grain. It just wasn’t meant to be. When you’re in a playoff, you plan on beating the guy by one. Yeah, I guess in big picture itis great, but I wish it would have ended differently.

“Starting two back, you just have to do a lot to overcome something like that with this kind of leaderboard, and I got out in front, and then Matt played tremendous golf coming in. I didn’t know it was going to be this windy, and when we got started, I thought five-under would get it done, to be honest. It was a really good round.

“I got off to a dream start and then just kind of hung in there for a little while and then made a nice putt to get into the playoff, and then played the playoff I played really well, even though I lost.”

The fourth-ranked Cantlay also played well again at Harbour Town, closing with a 68 that included five birdies to wind up one stroke out of the playoff, followed by sixth-seeded Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, who birdied three straight holes down the stretch for a 66.

Said Cantlay, who has five top-seven finishes at Harbour Town without winning: “Just another close call here.”

Sahith Theegala of Pepperdine and Chino Hills collected eight birdies in a 65 and finished three behind in in a tie for fifth with Hayden Buckley, who made two late birdies in a 67, while Brian Harman carded a bogey-free 67 to wind up one more down in a tie for seventh with Sungjae Im of South Korea, who birdied five of the first nine holes in another 67, Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, who holed a 55-foot bunker shot for an eagle on the third hole in his 68, and Cam Davis of Australia, who had a bogey-free 68.

Second-ranked Scottie Scheffler tied for 11th after a 70 that included birdies on two of the first three holes, top-seeded Jon Rahm of Spain closed with a bogey-free 68 to finish a tie for 15th that included 10th-seeded Sam Burns, while ninth-seeded Viktor Hovland of Norway tied for 59th with two birdies and two bogeys in a 71.

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