Valspar Championship - Final Round
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The year of the long shot on the PGA Tour continues. Peter Malnati, who was a 325-1 underdog to win the Valspar Championship when the week started, went out and won the tournament for his first victory in nine years. This performance coming after shooting 81 in the final round at the Players Championship just a week ago.

Malnati shot 4-under 67 in the final round at Innisbrook to beat Cameron Young by two and Chandler Phillips and Mackenzie Hughes by three. It's Malnati's first victory since the 2015 Sanderson Farms Championship and also earned him an invite to the first Masters of his career next month. 

So much about the win is improbable. 

  • The fact that he shot 81 in his most recent round then went out and torched a field that included Young, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Sam Burns. 
  • That, as a PGA Tour player director, he began the week on a private jet in the Bahamas negotiating the future of the PGA Tour alongside Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay, Spieth and others with Saudi Arabia PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan and then returned to win this tournament. 
  • That he has one top-five finish anywhere since the start of 2022.
  • That he shot 31 on the back nine of this course to beat one of the more talented ball strikers in the world.

None of that was lost on him as he broke down in tears on the 72nd green and openly wept in his interview on NBC following the victory.

"I told myself I was going to do my best on every shot, and that was what I did," he told NBC. "I was so nervous coming down the stretch. A lot of those shots, you kind of see it. The approach into 16 was terrible. You can't describe it. It's so cool. It's so cool to share it ... it's just amazing, it's just amazing. 

"You wonder if you're ever going to do it again. It's hard. In the nine years since my last win, it's gotten a lot harder, too. You look at the level of talent out here. Guys coming out when they're 20 years old and they're ready to play on this stage, and they're so good. You just wonder. To have this moment, it just feels so amazing. Obviously, my family believes in me. I have the best caddie. He's been loyal to me for a long time, through a lot of down times, too. I'm so thankful. I'm so thankful for my wife. She makes this all possible. 

"Life is hard. It's obviously glamorous at times like this. This is my dream job, and it's absolutely amazing. But life is really, really hard, too. When you're trying to figure out how to live this lifestyle and have two kids and be everything you want to be, it's really hard. My wife has been an absolute rock through all of it. She's amazing. My family is amazing. It just feels so good. It feels so good."

A 325-1 long shot shoots 67 on Sunday to get into the Masters and cries openly on national television while holding his young kids and talking about how long the road to that victory has been?

How can you not be romantic about golf? Grade: A++

Here are the rest of our grades for the 2024 Valspar Championship.

2. Cameron Young (-10): It's been a strange year for Young, who has multiple top 10s on the season, including Sunday's weird and somewhat disappointing (?) runner-up finish that included a three-putt at the last to almost completely take himself out of even a chance at a playoff (he was down one to Malnati when he three-putted with Malnati playing the 18th hole behind him).

He seems to be hitting the heck out of the golf ball right now, and his bad weeks are usually a function of an ice-cold putter. Still, it makes no sense that has not won on the PGA Tour yet. That seems like it should be about to happen, and if he keeps hitting it like this, it will. But as good as the good has been this year, like the next golfer in our grades, it doesn't mean a lot to Young unless he starts collecting trophies. Grade: A-

Data Golf

T5. Xander Schauffele (-8): Following a near miss at the Players Championship, Schauffele was good on Day 1 at the Valspar but stalled over the next two days at Innisbrook. He hit a heater on Sunday, though, and shot a 65 to take a lengthy clubhouse lead that never truly had a chance of winning the golf tournament. It's hard to be disappointed in Schauffele -- whose finishes you can see below -- but not turning at least one of those into a win must be a bit of a bummer for him. Grade: A

  • Valspar Championship: T5
  • Players Championship: T2
  • Arnold Palmer Invitational: T25
  • Genesis Invitational: T4
  • Pebble Beach Pro-Am: T54
  • Farmers Insurance Open: T9
  • American Express: T3
  • The Sentry: T10

T64. Justin Thomas (+3): After a really positive first few months of the season, the last two weeks have been a step back for Thomas. He missed the cut at the Players Championship and finished outside the top 50 here at the Valspar Championship. His driver was a bit of a mess at times this week, but it was mostly horrific putting that pushed him down the leaderboard with an 8-over weekend after some real contention over the first two rounds. He lost nearly eight shots to the field on the greens on Saturday and Sunday with seven of those happening on Saturday when he made 22 total feet of putts in 18 holes (if you do the math here, this is a very difficult number for even an amateur to achieve). Grade: C

MC. Jordan Spieth (+1): I don't know what to make of Spieth just three weeks before the Masters. Is he playing well and just had a few bad weeks with missed cuts at the Players and Valspar? Is he playing terribly and got lucky with top 10s at the Sentry and Phoenix Open? Does any of this matter when he gets to a place like Augusta National where he thrives? There are, fittingly, more questions than answers as it relates to Spieth right now, even after three months of the season have been played. Grade: F