Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bryan rallies for first win at RBC Heritage

It was a hectic close to the RBC Heritage, but in the end the tournament crowned another first-time winner. Here’s how things ended up at Harbour Town, where Wesley Bryan used an early charge to step into the winner’s circle:

Leaderboard: Wesley Bryan (-13), Luke Donald (-12), Patrick Cantlay (-11), Ollie Schniederjans (-11), William McGirt (-11)

What it means: Bryan started the day four shots off the lead, but four straight birdies on the front nine put him in contention and two more on the back nine moved him to the top of the leaderboard. After earning his PGA Tour card with three wins on the Web.com circuit last year, Bryan has been solid in his rookie campaign and now has his first career win on the main stage. Bryan becomes the first native South Carolinian to win this event and, after growing up a short distance from Augusta National, now has earned his first Masters invite. For Donald, it’s another close call in an event where he regularly contends but still has never won.

Round of the day: Matt Kuchar made a big final-round surge for the second straight week, this time moving up 50 spots with a closing 64. Kuchar eagled the par-5 second and made three more early birdies to make the turn in 31, then added three more birdies on his inward half. After beginning the day nearly in last place, Kuchar made it all the way back up into a tie for 11th.

Best of the rest: Bryan bogeyed the third hole, but he bounced back with four straight circles on Nos. 4-7 to spark his rally. He was among a logjam of players near the lead when he rolled in a 10-footer on No. 13 followed by an accurate wedge on No. 15 that gave him the solo lead for the first time – a position he never relinquished. After three closing pars, he shot a 4-under 67.

Biggest disappointment: Jason Dufner started the day with a one-shot lead, but he quickly fell from contention early in the back nine. An errant approach to No. 13 led to a double bogey, and when Dufner rinsed his tee shot on the next hole he was out of the mix. A birdie on No. 2 proved to be his only birdie of the day, as he played his final 16 holes in 6 over to drop into a tie for 11th.

Shot of the day: Nursing a one-shot lead over Donald, Bryan found the fairway and then put his final approach within 30 feet of the target. Two putts later, he was a winner on the PGA Tour.

Quote of the day: “Of all places, right back here is where the first one goes down? I’m going to remember this for a long time.” – Bryan


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