US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick defeated Jordan Spieth in a thrilling play-off to win his first regular PGA Tour title in the RBC Heritage.
Fitzpatrick birdied the third extra hole at Hilton Head after the pair had finished tied on 17 under par, with Spieth missing two excellent chances to successfully defend a title for the first time in his career.
Spieth was dismayed to lip out for birdie on the first play-off hole, the three-time major winner raising his putter in celebration before seeing his ball catch the edge of the cup and spin out.
Both players had birdie chances on the second extra hole, the par-three 17th, with Fitzpatrick missing an almost identical putt to the one he had in regulation and Spieth’s attempt from nine feet drifting agonisingly across the hole.
But Fitzpatrick then sealed victory in stunning fashion as the pair returned to the 18th, the 28-year-old’s approach from 186 yards pulling up just inches from the hole to set up the easiest of winning birdies.
“It was another nine iron,” a smiling Fitzpatrick told CBS, a reference to the club he used to make par from a fairway bunker on the 72nd hole of his US Open triumph at Brookline last year.
“It’s hard to describe. I said to Billy (Foster, his caddie) it doesn’t get better than this, walking down here, it’s a course I dreamed of playing when I was young.
“I managed to play it a couple of times with my dad and this one means more than anything.”
Spieth, who beat Patrick Cantlay on the first hole of a play-off 12 months ago, began the day two shots behind Fitzpatrick but birdied four of the first six holes and took the outright lead when Fitzpatrick bogeyed the seventh.
Cantlay then birdied the ninth and 10th, where Spieth got up and down from 168 yards for par after pulling his tee shot into the water, to move into a tie for the lead, but bogeyed the 13th as Spieth made birdie to briefly enjoy a two-shot lead.
Spieth and Cantlay both bogeyed the 14th after missing the green left, Cantlay’s chip running across the green and almost into the water before getting stuck against a wooden pylon on the edge of the hazard.
Fitzpatrick finally ended a run of seven straight pars with birdies on the 15th and 16th to join Spieth in the lead and missed from seven feet for another on the 17th, with neither player able to birdie the last to win in regulation.
“Of every single one on the calendar, this is the one that I’d want to win most,” added Fitzpatrick, who used to attend the tournament as a spectator while on holiday with his family.
“So far I’ve been very lucky in my career, I’ve won a major and now this and multiple times in Europe as well and this one is just very, very special.”