Mitchell Eagles 18th Hole to Take 2-Shot Lead in the 23rd Valspar Championship

Keith Mitchell conquered “The Snake Pit” and rose to the top of the leaderboard.

The 32-year-old Mitchell holed his second shot on the final hole from 151 yards for an eagle to cap a five-under-par 66 and take a two-stroke lead over Peter Malnati, Seamus Power of Ireland and Mackenzie Hughes of Canada heading to the final round of the 23rd Valspar Championship on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Mitchell became the first player in tournament history to play the finishing three holes, known as “The Snake Pit” in four-under-par, as he also sank birdie putts of 14 feet on the 16th hole and three feet at No. 17.

And he didn’t even see his eagle go in the hole.

“When I looked up, something kind of flew in my eye, so I kind of looked away and never saw it come down and land,” said Mitchell, whose only professional came in the 2018 Honda Classic, when he beat Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka by one stroke. “But I knew … when I hit it, I was pleased with the contact.

“If I hit the shots like I hit coming down the stretch tomorrow I’ll have a chance to win, because I hit them all where I wanted to. I had some good numbers and executed them well. Out here with the wind, small greens, small fairways, you can hit good shots and not get rewarded. But all in all, it’s really all we can control tomorrow.”

Mitchell, who also finished second in Corales Puntacana Club Championship, added six birdies to go with his eagle and recorded a 54-hole score of 10-under-par 203.

Malnati, who has won seven times as a pro but only the 2015 Sanderson Farms Championship on the PGA Tour, birdied four of his first eight holes en route to a 68, while Power had two birdies on each nine against a single bogey in another 68, and Hughes made three birdies on the back nine in a 69.

“It’s why I play and practice, to come out here on the PGA TOUR and have a chance to win golf tournaments,” said Malnati, who also won twice on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour. “This is my 10th season and I can’t think of very many times where I’ve actually teed off on Sunday realistically thinking of winning the tournament.

“So, it feels, unfortunately, it feels special. Hopefully, it will feel normal by the end of the year maybe, but it feels special and it’s something that I’m really excited about. It’s why I work hard so I can have these opportunities.”

Cameron Young holed out for an eagle from 121 yards on the seventh hole and added five birdies in 68 and is three shots down in a tie for fifth with Brendon Todd, who had two birdies and two bogeys in a 70, and Chandler Phillips, who made three birdies on the front nine in another 70.

Cameron Champ of Sacramento made three of his five birdies on the back nine in a 67 and is four behind in a tie for eighth with Adam Hadwin of Canada, who had three birdies on each nine in a 68, Rico Hoey of Rancho Cucamonga and USC, who made two birdies on each nine in a 69, Adam Svensson of Canada, who had three birdies on the back nine in another 69, and Kevin Roy, who also made three birdies on the back nine in yet another 69.

Fifth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State shot 71 and is in a tie for 34th that includes defending champion Taylor Moore, who finished at 69, while second-round co-leader Stewart Cink struggled to a 76 and is tied for 46th, and two-time PGA champion Justin Thomas is tied for 66th after stumbling to a 79.

For complete results and final-round tee time times, visit:

Related Articles

Stay Connected


Latest Articles