Matt Fitzpatrick beats Jordan Spieth in playoff, wins RBC Heritage on familiar turf
HILTON HEAD, S.C. — Two feet from the hole, Jordan Spieth’s putter went in the air.
He knew it was in. The fans knew it was in. Even Jim Nantz thought it was in. Only it wasn’t.
The defending RBC Heritage champion’s birdie putt on the first playoff hole of this year’s tournament caught the low lip at dead speed. Yet it somehow stayed out.
Matt Fitzpatrick, his opponent who loves Harbour Town Golf Links maybe more than anyone on the PGA Tour, was given another chance after his birdie-try went six feet by.
“In the playoff, I felt every putt he hit was going to go in. But I’ll be honest, I just feel like that all the time,” Fitzpatrick said afterward. “Jordan Spieth does different things. I always had that in the back of my mind.”
Taking no extra time, he rolled in the comebacker like it was on the practice green.
About 20 mins later, Fitzpatrick seized on the lifeline.
From 182 yards, Fitzpatrick landed his approach on the third playoff hole right on the front edge of the green and it rolled out to just 12 inches. After Spieth’s long-range effort was no good, Fitzpatrick tapped in the birdie for his second PGA Tour title after last year’s U.S. Open.
“I think I can retire now,” Fitzpatrick joked after the round. “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.”
The victory in Hilton Head has extra meaning for Fitzpatrick. Not only has he stated Harbour Town is his favorite course on tour after Augusta National, but his family also traveled all the way from England to vacation in Hilton Head each year when he was a kid.
A couple of times, his family would plan to come the week of the tournament. He even made his first non-major PGA Tour cut here as an amateur in 2014. Now he also has his first non-major PGA Tour win here too.
“Just for what this place means to me and to achieve both of those things,” Fitzpatrick said. “I had a little bit better weekend this year. I seem to remember that year I ended up playing the weekend with two birdies and no bogeys for 36 holes, and yeah, this weekend I had a few more birdies, fortunately.”
Every year since he made his first start at the Heritage in 2016, Fitzpatrick has swapped his usual driver headcover for one resembling the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse for the week.
Fitzpatrick began the final round up one stroke on Patrick Cantlay and up two on Spieth, but Spieth quickly closed the gap to one by birding the opening two holes.
The lead was traded around the final threesome for much of the afternoon until Spieth opened up a two-stroke lead by knocking his second at the short par-4 13th to just under four feet. After a bogey on 14, Spieth got it right back by birding the par-5 15th.
But Fitzpatrick wouldn’t go away. He birdied 15 as well from just over the green in two and then hit it to five feet on 16 to grab a share of the lead once again.
“I didn’t do any attacking,” he said. “I just stuck to my game plan all along. I didn’t change. We were hitting the same targets, same shots as we did all week.”
The Englishman looked poise to regain the outright lead when he stuck his approach at 17 to just seven feet. But he misread the putt.
Both players parred 18 in regulation to finish at 17 under, two shots clear of Cantlay thanks to a 68 by Fitzpatrick and a 66 by Spieth.
The two traded pars again on 18 once more, with Spieth coming agonizingly close, while Fitzpatrick’s approach looked good all the way, but flew the stick and ran out to the back of the green.
Both players missed 10-foot birdie putts on 17 before Fitzpatrick finally closed it out the third time the pair played 18 Sunday.