Malnati Wins Valspar by One Stroke for His First PGA Tour Victory Since 2015

Peter Malnati simply claimed his first PGA Tour victory in more than eight years.

The 35-year-old Malnati closed with a four-under-par 67 to beat Cameron Young by two strokes in the 23rd Valspar Championship on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.

“You wonder if you’re ever going to do it again,” said an emotional Malnati, whose only other PGA Tour victory came in the 2015 Sanderson Farms Championship. “In the years since my last win, it’s getting harder. I told myself to do my best on every shot. I was so nervous coming down the stretch. I can’t describe it. It’s so cool.

“You know, that moment of winning a tournament and having your family come out on the green and the big hugs and all that, that’s something that I’ve seen other families have and that has been my dream. There’s been a lot of stretches of golf in the last nine years when I wondered if I would ever have that experience.

“I’m at peace with who I am and the way I live and the work that I put into this. If I had never had the moment I had today, I would have been completely fine. But, man, was that special.

Malnati, who earned his first berth in the Masters in two weeks, made five birdies in hos 67, including a six-foot putt on the 17h hole that broke a tie for the lead with Young on his way to posting a winning score of 12-under-par 272.

Young, 26, who has won four times as a pro but not on the PGA Tour, hit a bad drive on the last hole that led to a bogey and finished with a 68 that also included five birdies.

“It was just a bad time for a pull,” said Young, the 2021-22 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. “I was trying to hit kind of the same shot, similar one that I hit off of 16. It was not quite as dramatic of a cut, but I just kind of started it on the wrong side of the wind, and it’s blowing pretty good off the right. So, yeah, just a bad time for a bad one.

“But I think I kept myself in it mentally really well today. I hit a couple shots I was really proud of late. Those two par-threes on the back nine, both kind of can bite you. I kind of let No. 15 get me yesterday, in a similar situation, similar wind and everything. So I was proud of that shot, just making sure it didn’t bite me.

“But I think I handled my own thoughts really well and, for me, that’s a big win, regardless of the outcome.”

Rookie Chandler Phillips made a two-foot eagle putt on the first hole en route to a 69 and finished three shots back in a tie for third with Mackenzie Hughes of Canada, who birdied the first and last holes in a 70.

Fifth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, who tied for second in The Players Championship last week, posted a 65 that included an 11-foot eagle putt on No. 11 and seven birdies in a 65 to wind up one more down in a tie for fifth with Carl Yuan of China, who had an eagle and four birdies in a 68; Ryan Moore, who had three of his five birdies on the first seven holes in another 68, and Adam Hadwin of Canada, who made four of his five birdies on the back nine in a 69.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa birdied the last two holes for a 67 to finish five strokes behind in a tie for ninth with K.H. Lee of South Korea, who had four birdies on the back nine in 69.

Defending champion Taylor Moore birdied the last hole for a 68 to tie for 12th, while 54-hole leader Keith Mitchell struggled to a 77 and tied for 17th, second-round co-leader Stewart Cink, 50, closed with a 70 to tie for 33rd, and two-time PGA champion Justin Thomas tied for 64th after a 71.

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