HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Thinking he might have a chance for a playoff, Jordan Spieth rolled in a 10-foot birdie on the 18th hole in regulation Sunday afternoon at Harbour Town Golf Links.
He made an even bigger shot when he returned to No. 18, the course's signature hole with a lighthouse as its backdrop, to win the RBC Heritage in a playoff.
Spieth's 56-footer from a greenside bunker stopped 7 inches away from the cup, and he beat Patrick Cantlay with a tap-in par for the 13th victory of his PGA Tour career, with the 28-year-old Texan winning on Easter Sunday for the second year in a row.
Sometimes, Spieth said, there's a tournament where you feel you've played well, yet not good enough to win.
"I honestly felt like this was that week," he said with a grin. "I needed a lot of things to go right."
And he got them all.
Spieth, at 13-under-par 271 for 72 holes after a closing 5-under 66, finished four groups ahead of Cantlay and waited out a stellar field that had several chances to tie or move in front. But only Cantlay was able to chase down Spieth, who stayed away from watching too much of the action once he finished.
"Every single putt looks like it's going in," Spieth said. "It was way more nerve-wracking than actually playing."
Spieth was certain he'd get passed by reigning FedEx Cup champion Cantlay, 2019 British Open winner Shane Lowry or RBC Heritage third-round leader Harold Varner III. When all three parred the par-5 15th, the best chance for a birdie on the back nine, Spieth felt his chances improve.
Three strokes behind Varner entering the round, Spieth eagled both front-nine par 5s to get into the mix. When Spieth finished, he was a stroke behind Lowry. But the chip by Lowry on the par-3 14th raced across the green and into the water, leading to a double bogey on the way to a 69 that left the 35-year-old from Northern Ireland a shot out of the playoff and tied for third with six others: Varner (70), Cam Davis (63), Matt Kuchar (68), J.T. Poston (64), Sepp Straka (68) and Cameron Young (66).
After Cantlay, tied for the lead after a birdie on the 17th, hit his approach on the green on his closing hole of regulation, Spieth headed out to loosen up, certain he'd be called back after Cantlay made the winning putt. Instead, he slid it by to set up bonus golf.
In the playoff, Cantlay also hit into the front bunker, with his lie looking like a fried egg. He blasted 35 feet past the cup and missed the par putt.
Cantlay was 179 yards from the hole in the playoff and used a 9-iron, as he did a short time earlier in regulation. This shot, though, came up short of the green and in an awful position.
"Obviously, with it plugged like that, it's darn near impossible to get it close," Cantlay said.
In his Easter victory at the Texas Open on April 4, 2021, Spieth earned PGA Tour title No. 12 and ended a four-year run without a win.
Next Easter Sunday? The final round of the Masters.
"That's good vibes," said Spieth, a three-time major champion who won a green jacket in 2015 but headed to Harbour Town this year bothered about missing the cut the week before at Augusta National.
"I hated it," he said of his first missed cut in nine Masters appearances. "It was the worst feeling. It was the worst feeling as a golfer that I can remember."
That turned around in front a happy, sold-out crowd that Spieth said stood four deep during his pro-am round Wednesday.
"I was actually very surprised by the amount of support that everyone had this week, and I felt a lot of it personally," Spieth said. "These crowds were just fantastic for it being a non-major."
Spieth had played the tournament only three times since 2015 because it falls after the grueling Masters week.
"What a great tournament to win," Spieth said. "It's an amazing golf course."
LPGA: Drama on 18th
EWA BEACH, Hawaii — South Korea's Hyo Joo Kim staved off a late charge from Japan's Hinako Shibuno to win the LPGA Tour's Lotte Championship on Saturday.
Kim closed with a 1-under 71 — she bounced back from her bogey on the par-4 17th with a hard-earned birdie on the par-5 18th — to finish at 11-under 277, two shots clear of Shibuno at breezy Hoakalei Country Club.
Kim, 26, earned $300,000 for her fifth LPGA Tour title. She had a three-stroke lead after both the second and third rounds and held off the push from Shibuno, who closed with a bogey-free 70.
On the final hole, Kim missed the fairway with her tee shot and found the right rough. Her second shot crossed the fairway and nestled into the first cut of the left rough. With her third, she recovered with a pitch shot that left her with a tap-in birdie.
Shibuno left herself with just more than 200 yards to the front of the green with her second shot on 18, but her ball hit the lip of a greenside bunker and fell back in. She closed with a par and was two strokes ahead of third-place Hye-Jin Choi (69) of South Korea.
Same time next year?
ARLINGTON, Texas — Tyson Alexander became the first player in Korn Ferry Tour history to repeat as a tournament's champion, rallying to win the Veritex Bank Championship on Saturday.
Alexander closed with a 6-under 65 to finish at 22-under 262 at Texas Rangers Golf Club, two strokes ahead of Pontus Nyholm (62) and Byeong Hun An (66).
"Whenever you can be the first person to do something, I think that's cool," Alexander said. "Back in college, I won the Azalea Invitational two years in a row (2009-10), so I kind of kept thinking about that. I've played good golf on this course before, won back-to-back tournaments before. I just kept saying that I'd done this before."
Alexander capped his bogey-free round with a birdie on the par-5 18th. The 33-year-old former University of Florida player earned $135,000 for his second victory on the developmental circuit. Last year, he closed with a 64 to take the inaugural event at 23 under.
Alexander's farther, Buddy Alexander, won the 1986 U.S. Amateur Championship and coached Florida to two NCAA titles. His grandfather, Skip Alexander, won three times on the PGA Tour.