Weekend Wrap: Fitzpatrick Takes The Heritage, Kim Plays Into 2023's First Women's Major
The current U.S. Open champion holds off Jordan Spieth while Grace Kim wins in just her third LPGA event to get into the Chevron. Plus, a post-Masters round-up and an unusual moment from the Lotte.
Running on post-Masters fumes did not stop some of the world’s best from putting on a fine show in Hilton Head.
With the PGA Championship opening round 32 days away and his title defense at the U.S. Open 60 days away, Matt Fitzpatrick’s RBC Heritage Classic playoff victory over Jordan Spieth positions the Englishman as a frontrunner the forthcoming tree-lined, inland tests rewarding accuracy off the tee.
moronic mildly hostile crowd shouting “U-S-A, U-S-A,” Fitzpatrick sealed the win with a near-hole out on the third playoff hole:
As for the Spieth Marching and Chowder Society that confused the RBC for a Ryder Cup, Fitzpatrick offered a diplomatic answer following the win.
“When you're the underdog or the person that everyone is not rooting for, it's obviously a little bit sweeter when you do win,” he said. “Obviously the U-S-A and the Spieth chants were louder, but I definitely had support out here, and I felt that because of my connection here.”
The win is Fitzpatrick’s second on the PGA Tour to go with seven DP World Tour titles.
He’s also the third Englishman to win a Tour event this year, the most in a single season dating to records beginning in 1983 (Justin Rose and Matt Wallace being the other two).
Fitzpatrick finished T10 in last week’s Masters.
The 28-year-old went 63-68 on the weekend.
The RBC Heritage victory moves Fitzpatrick to the highest ranking of his career from No. 16 to No. 8 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
He is set to play this week’s two-man team event with his brother Alex.
Spieth led much of the final round and seemed to have the win in hand after sensational putts at the first and second playoff holes clipping the hole. He now has 18 runner-up finishes dating to the start of the 2013 season to go along with his 12 wins and three majors.
If you missed the Heritage finale, the final round highlights:
Elsewhere, let’s put bows on some post-Masters stories and other news from the last few days if you checked out in a Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwich fog like someone else I know. (I only gained one pound though!)
Jon Rahm had a strange exchange with a reporter asking if he would take the weekend off after making the cut, but gave some thoughtful answers about why he played the Heritage, including this: “I put myself in the shoes of not only the spectators, but the kids as well. If I was one of the kids, I would want to see the recent Masters champion play good or bad, just want to be there.” Rahm joined the CBS broadcast for an hour Sunday and delivered loads of insight into almost every shot shown. Despite running on empty he stayed around longer than most.
Rory McIlroy will be docked the remaining $3 million of his $12 million Player Impact Program bonus for his RBC Heritage WD, reported SI.com’s Bob Harig citing a source. The PGA Tour still has not confirmed because, well, PIP matters are private or some such thing and the Vice Commish has not offered a simple statement about what’s up. Next year he be able to do the same thing and face no penalty under the Tour’s make-it-up as they go scheme to fend off LIV. Asked about the WD, his peers had little sympathy, reports Alex Miceli. However given the amount of money, Xander Schauffele did wonder whether there “was more to it” than McIlroy just wanting a post-Masters reset and having gobs of millions.
Former McIlroy ten-percenter Chubby Chandler took Rory to task for getting “carried away” being a PGA Tour “mouthpiece” and even for doing the walk and talk during Thursday’s Masters coverage. “The interview on the fairway [at the Masters], absolutely brilliant TV but not good for Rory McIlroy. You can’t be having a chat with a guy in the commentary box about the day and the way he is playing, or whatever, then get over a wedge and give it 100 per cent. You would never have got [Jack] Nicklaus doing it. You would never have got Tiger [Woods] doing it.”
Patrick Cantlay pushed back at Brooks Koepka’s suggestion he was the Masters Sunday slow play culprit. “We waited all day on pretty much every shot. We waited on 15 fairway, we waited on 18 fairway. I imagine it was slow for everyone.” Cantlay went on to blame the wind, difficult greens and hole locations for players taking so much time. The new anti-rollbacker left out any mention of the walks back to tees or players waiting for par-5 greens to clear. Or that he takes two minutes to hit a simple putt.
Cantlay took two minutes and fifty seconds to play a shot off the 14th hole railroad ties Sunday, hardly helping erase memories of the Masters mess.
Pacing and rubbing his face suggested Spieth was less-than-enthralled by Patrick’s conundrum and the time taken.
Fitzpatrick said earlier in the week that the current PGA Tour “programme” (going on player whims and making up the LIV response as they go) is taking a toll on top players, calling it “messy” in the wake of McIlroy’s WD. “I think in a few years once it's a bit more structured it should be a little better.”
Jim Nantz defended CBS Sports’ coverage of Phil Mickelson at the 2023 Masters. Speaking on SI Media With Jimmy Train, he offered this: “If you went back and looked at the full coverage on Sunday, including Sunday morning, the finishing up of the third round, our guys were really on Phil.” Nantz also shared this: “Part of it is the optics, when you look at a leaderboard at the end and you see that Phil’s tied for second, you think, ‘Well, my gosh, they must have been on him all day.’ But with two holes to play, he was like tied for fifth with eight other guys at six under par. He had been covered up to that point, but there was action happening everywhere.” The interview: