Golf roundup: Matt Fitzpatrick beats Jordan Spieth in playoff to win RBC Heritage

AP photo by Stephen B. Morton / Matt Fitzpatrick stretches out on the 18th green at Harbour Town Golf Links to line up his putt during the final round of the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage on Sunday in Hilton Head Island, S.C.

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Matt Fitzpatrick's earliest memories of Harbour Town Golf Links were as a spectator wondering if Tiger Woods would play the RBC Heritage.

He was always disappointed, because Woods played the PGA Tour event on Hilton Head Island just once — in 1999, when Fitzpatrick was 4 years old.

"I remember saying to my dad, "Is Tiger going to be here?" he recalled.

Well, now Fitzpatrick has a sweeter memory at the Pete Dye layout he played as a child on vacations.

Fitzpatrick defeated 2022 tournament champion Jordan Spieth on the third playoff hole Sunday, stuffing his approach in close on the par-4 18th to secure his first victory since the U.S. Open last June.

"I think I can retire now," joked the 28-year-old Englishman, who uses a Harbour Town-style lighthouse head cover. "This is one I really wanted."

Fitzpatrick hit a 9-iron shot to within a foot on the closing lighthouse hole to set up the winning birdie.

He had to sweat out a couple of prime chances by Spieth on the first two extra holes. Spieth raised his putter in triumph before watching his 12-foot birdie putt catch the right edge and spin out the first time the pair played the 18th. Then Spieth's nine-foot birdie attempt ran out of steam on the right edge at the 17th hole.

"I felt every putt he hit was going to go in," Fitzpatrick said.

Spieth still doesn't understand how the that first playoff putt didn't drop.

"I think if I hit the same putt 10 times, it does in eight," Spieth said. "It should go left at the very end there on the grain. It just wasn't meant to be."

There was no doubt about the final hole as Fitzpatrick, from 187 yards out, hit the front of the green and watched the ball settle next to the cup. Spieth's attempt from 26 feet away rolled past, and Fitzpatrick tapped in for the victory.

Fitzpatrick felt the shot was true from the moment he struck it. He wasn't sure how close it came, but he got an idea when he spotted his family cheering wildly.

"I knew it was good because my mom and my girlfriend were jumping up and down," he said.

Fitzpatrick won $3.6 million from the elevated purse of $20 million in the sixth designated event of the year on the PGA Tour, topping a field that included seven of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Fitzpatrick trailed Spieth by two strokes with five holes to play, but he made birdies on the 15th and 16th holes to tie for the lead at 17 under. The third-round leader by one shot, Fitzpatrick closed with a 3-under 68 and matched Spieth at 17-under 267 through 72 holes. Spieth had his second straight 66.

Patrick Cantlay, grouped with Fitzpatrick and Spieth, was third after a 68 left him at 16 under. Cantlay lost this title in a playoff to Spieth a year ago.

"Another close call here," Cantlay said.

Xander Schauffele was another stroke behind after a 66. Sahith Theegala shot a 65 and Hayden Buckley a 67 to tie for fifth at 14 under.

Scottie Scheffler, No. 2 in the world, shot a 70 and tied for 11th at 12 under. Masters champion Jon Rahm ended with a 68 and tied for 15th before taking a well-earned week off.

Rahm had set his sights on donning the plaid jacket given to winners at Harbour Town to go with the green one he brought from Augusta National. But an opening 72 set him back, and he never challenged for the lead despite shooting in the 60s the final three rounds.

Rahm played his final 33 holes in 2 under and closed with a birdie on the last hole, his approach settling inside two feet.

The crowd cheered and chanted as he responded with a big smile.

"To be honest, I didn't expect this," Rahm said. "I did not expect this in my wildest dreams — to see the kids, the adults and everybody have that reaction just to see me is really very special."

LPGA rookie wins playoff in Hawaii

HONOLULU — Australian rookie Grace Kim won the Lotte Championship on Saturday at breezy Hoakalei Country Club for her first LPGA Tour title, beating Yu Liu and Yu Jin Sung with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff.

While Liu and Sung scrambled after hitting their second shots to the left of the green on the par-5 18th, the 22-year-old Kim went over the water to the right, then chipped to eight feet to set up her birdie.

"I definitely wanted to have a good go at it knowing that the green wasn't the best, I guess, angle in from where we were," Kim said. "I would have to admit that I wasn't planning to go that aggressive. I did push it right. So just letting you guys know. Yeah, I guess, yeah, I got lucky."

Liu made a par and Sung had a bogey, hitting her third shot over the green and past Kim's second.

Playing alongside Sung in the final threesome, Kim closed with a 4-under 68, rebounding from a bogey on the par-4 14th to birdie the last two holes. She got up and down from the front-left bunker on 18 in regulation, making a seven-footer.

Sung finished with a 69, getting up and down from the front right bunker on 18 with a nine-footer. The 22-year-old South Korean played on a sponsor exemption after winning the Lotte Open last year on the Korean LPGA.

Liu began the round five strokes behind Sung in a tie for 15th, then shot a 64 — the best score in the two years at Hoakalei — to post at 12-under 276. The 27-year-old from China finished about an hour before the final group.

Linnea Strom, the Swede playing in the second-to-last group, missed a 10-foot birdie try on 18 and wound up with a 69 to finish a stroke back with Taiwan's Peiyun Chien (67).