2023 RBC Heritage leaderboard, scores: Matthew Fitzpatrick outlasts Jordan Spieth in dramatic playoff
The 28-year-old Englishman earned his second Tour win at Hilton Head, an area he grew up admiring
It's not every day that a kid from Sheffield, England, calls Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, his other home. Vacationing there every year since the age of six, Matt Fitzpatrick experienced a full-circle moment this week at Harbour Town Golf Links, claiming the 2023 RBC Heritage title following an incredible playoff against defending champion, Jordan Spieth.
Commenting earlier in the week about the tennis courts underneath the media center and the fond moments he enjoyed in Hilton Head as a youth, the Englishman now adds his second PGA Tour victory to his memory bank.
"It's hard to describe," said Fitzpatrick. "I said to Billy [Foster], it doesn't get better than this, walking down here, looking around, it's a course that I've dreamed of playing when I was young. I managed to play it a couple times with my dad. This one means more than anything."
Entering the final round with a slim lead over Spieth and Patrick Cantlay, Fitzpatrick fought not only two of the top names in the game, but also a very pro-Spieth crowd following the final threesome.
Absorbing a flurry of punches thrown by Spieth in the early stages – the Texan birdied four of his first six holes – Fitzpatrick saw his name removed from the top of the leaderboard by the time the group walked to the back nine.
With Cantlay pulling even with his Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teammate after a tidy birdie on the 10th, Fitzpatrick was suddenly the odd man out. This deficit would grow just as world No. 1 Jon Rahm provided analysis for the CBS broadcast and implored viewers to not forget about his European Ryder Cup companion.
Spieth made another move with a dart on the short par-4 13th to open up the tournament, but Fitzpatrick held pat. Making par on the 14th with his playing competitors both dropping shots, the reigning U.S. Open champion summoned the clutch gene that carried him to history at The Country Club this past summer, but this time in the Lowcountry.
Birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 saw Fitzpatrick draw even with Spieth before pars on the final two holes forced a playoff with the man who donned the tartan jacket a season ago.
After avoiding not one but two birdie bids from the blade of Spieth, Fitzpatrick saw his chance and took it. Striking his approach from the middle of the fairway on the 18th hole – the third playoff hole – to tap-in range, the 28-year-old secured his place in the history books as the first Englishman since Nick Faldo in 1984 to win at Harbour Town.
"It was another 9 iron," Fitzpatrick said of his approach into the third playoff hole, referencing his memorable shot into the 72nd hole at the U.S. Open that led to his major title.
Fitzpatrick has always been a slow burn. Capturing his first victory on the PGA Tour just last summer while taking them down in bunches on the DP World Tour, his greatness and work ethic are often overlooked. All eyes were on Spieth and Cantlay for the majority of the final round, and a win from one of those two almost felt certain on the back nine. Still, Fitzpatrick was there in the shadows, lurking and timing his moment to strike.
When he finally did, Fitzpatrick made it count. Grade: A+
Here is the breakdown for the rest of the leaderboard at the 2023 RBC Heritage
2. Jordan Spieth (-17): Spieth's career was already filled with multiple major championship triumphs, peaks and valleys in performance, and just about everything in between. However, it is still without a successful title defense. He came agonizingly close to slamming the door on Fitzpatrick in the playoff not once but twice, but kept it ajar too long. It was a fantastic tournament for the defending champion, and while his dinner may taste sour, he has no reason to hang his head. Grade: A
T11. Scottie Scheffler (-12): The tee-to-green domination continued for the Texan. Unfortunately, so did the shortcomings on the greens. Missing four birdie bids inside 7 feet on his front nine on Sunday, Scheffler missed out on an opportunity to track down the leaders and make his presence known. In his 100th start on the PGA Tour, the world No. 2 fell short of grabbing his seventh victory. He'll have his fair share of chances to capture lucky No. 7 in the next month or so with a couple stops in Texas and the PGA Championship on the horizon. Grade: B+
T15. Rickie Fowler (-11): It was another quality result for a resurgent Fowler, but it may be time for him to enter the fold on Sunday. While the top-20 finishes have stacked up for Fowler, he is without a real run at the winner's circle since his runner-up at the Zozo Championship last fall. He keeps knocking on the door, and it should come crashing down sooner rather than later. Fowler didn't piece the entirety of his game together this week, but it just goes to show you how improved his game is compared to the last couple years. Grade: B
T15. Jon Rahm (-11): Fatigue felt inevitable for the Masters champion. After opening with a 1-over 72, Rahm improved by eight strokes on Friday and entered the weekend with a fighter's chance. Rahm carded three straight birdies to begin his third round before some loose swings ultimately sunk his chances. The Spaniard's week wasn't all that surprising; he could have contended for his fifth victory of the year before the calendar flipped to the fifth month if not for some short-game woes. We will see him next when he defends his title at the Mexico Open. Grade: C
T25. Justin Thomas (-9): Should we be concerned about Thomas? Probably not, but I am. The two-time major champion once again experienced a week where his name was nowhere to be found come crunch time. Thomas had a decent performance from tee to green but lacked conviction with the putter in hand. That's been his typical statistical output this season, and while the putting is concerning, it's not as bad as his lack of sharpness with his scoring clubs. Long considered to be one of the top iron players in the world, Thomas has yet to look like one in 2023. Grade: C
MC. Max Homa (--): The Californian has been experiencing a rough patch since the Florida Swing, and that continued in South Carolina. Making 15 consecutive cuts dating back to last season, Homa saw his streak come to an end with a poor two-round effort. He never looked comfortable around Harbour Town and hopes to rediscover his groove with good friend Collin Morikawa at the Zurich Classic, where the two will team up for the first time. Grade: F
What a Playoff
Imagine if this was happening last week at the Masters. Spieth and Fitzpatrick feel like they're playing speed golf after Cantlay dropped out of the group, and we're getting potential tournament-winning putts on every hole so far. I want nine holes of this!
Back to 18
Jordan Spieth was 9-for-9 on putts inside 10 feet before his birdie bid on 17 slid by. Fitzpatrick's putt never had a chance as the playoff heads to the third hole, the par-4 18th. Let's see if anyone can make a putt.
Both around 10 feet on 17
Fitzpatrick hit a carbon copy of his shot in regulation while Spieth was much more aggressive. Spieth is closer but Fitzpatrick will putt first as both will face birdie bids from approximately 10 feet.
Fitzpatrick escapes, they head to 17
Ouch!!! Spieth lips out his 12 footer to win the tournament and Fitzpatrick rolls in his 6 foot comebacker for par. That hurts as the two head to the par-3 17th where they each made par in regulation (although Fitz hit his tee shot to 7 feet).
Spieth will have a birdie bid from roughly 15 feet while Matt Fitzpatrick's approach was all over the pin but without spin. The Englishman's ball rolled out a bit too much and settled approximately 30 feet from the pin. It's a putting contest.
Jordan Spieth and Matt Fitzpatrick will head back to the 18th tee for a second straight playoff at the RBC Heritage. Spieth got the better of Patrick Cantlay in last year's edition and will try his hand at the Englishman after both finished the tournament at 17 under, one stroke ahead of Cantlay.
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