HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC — Jordan Spieth thought he might have a playoff shot and bowled in a 10-foot birdie on the 18th hole in rule. He made an even bigger shot at Harbor Town’s signature hole in a playoff to win the RBC Heritage.
Spieth’s 56-foot shot from a greenside bunker stopped 7 inches away and he beat Patrick Cantlay with a tap-in par on Sunday’s Lighthouse hole for his 13th career PGA Tour title — and second title in Episode on Easter Sunday.
Sometimes, Spieth said, there’s a tournament where you feel like you’ve played well, but not well enough to win. “I honestly felt like that was this week,” he said with a grin. “I needed a lot of things to walk properly.”
And he has them all.
Spieth, 13-under after his 5-under 66, finished four groups ahead of Cantlay and waited for Starfield, which had several chances to equal or move forward. But all but Cantlay failed to catch Spieth, who refrained from seeing too much of the action after he was done.
“Every single putt looks like it’s going in,” said Spieth. “It was a lot more nerve-wracking than actually playing.”
Spieth was certain he would be overtaken by Cantlay, the FedEx Cup Champion, Open Championship winner Shane Lowry, or third round championship leader Harold Varner III. As all three parried the par 5 15, the best chance for a birdie on the back nine, Spieth felt his chances improve.
When Spieth finished, he was a shot behind Lowry. But Lowry’s chip on the par-3 14 sped across the green and into the water, resulting in a double bogey. He finished a punch back after a 69.
After Cantlay, who was level on points after a birdie on the 17th, hit his approach to the green on his last hole of regulation, Spieth made his way to loosen up, certain he would be called back, after Cantlay made the winning putt.
Instead, Cantlay pushed it right to set up the playoffs.
In the play-off, Cantlay also hit the front bunker, 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 was using a 9-iron, as he had typically done a short time earlier. That shot came just short of the green and in a terrible position.
“Obviously, with a port like this, it’s almost impossible to get close to,” Cantlay said.
Three strokes behind Varner, who entered the round, Spieth attacked both front nine par 5s to get into the mix.
Spieth had won his last event, the Valero Texas Open, over Easter to end a four-year winless drought.
Next Easter Sunday? The final round of the Masters.
“These are good vibes,” said Spieth, a three-time Major champion, including the Masters in 2015.
Cam Davis (63) was also a hit behind with Varner (70), JT Poston (64), Cameron Young (66), Sepp Straka (68) and Matt Kuchar (68).
Spieth has won from the bunker before. He beat Daniel Berger with a greenside bunker shot on the first extra hole at the 2017 Travelers Championship.
Others besides Cantlay, who missed a 15-foot birdie on his 72nd hole, had a chance to catch Spieth. Straka under-tied Spieth at 13 with a birdie on the 17th, then bogeyed the final hole after his approach found some knobby long grass off the green. Varner had birdie chances on each of his last four holes but failed to convert any of them.
Spieth started with the early eagles. On the second hole he punched out of a green bunker. On the fifth hole, he reached the green in two and rolled in a 24-foot as the gallery erupted in cheers.
Spieth reached 13-under with a birdie in eighth before falling to 11-under with bogeys in ninth and eleventh. He moved into batting position with a birdie on the 13th, then batted his approach to the dramatically filled lighthouse hole to 10 feet and made the birdie putt to get to 13 under.
He walked in this week worried about missing the cut at Augusta National last week. “I hated it,” he said. “It was the worst feeling. It was the worst feeling as a golfer that I can remember.”
That turned around in Harbor Town in front of a happy, sold-out crowd that Spieth said was four deep during his pro-am round on Wednesday.
“I was actually very surprised by the great support everyone had this week and I felt it very personally,” said Spieth. “That crowd was just amazing for being a non-major.”
Spieth had only played the tournament three times since 2015 because it falls after the always grueling Masters week.
“What a great tournament to win,” said Spieth. “It’s a fantastic golf course.”