Second year PGA Tour pro and former Georgia Bulldog golfer Keith Mitchell claims a win at this week’s Honda Classic. He lives out every golfers dream by nailing a 15 foot putt on the final hole to grab the lead, eventually grabbing the overly-large winner’s check.
Mitchell is 27 years old and took several years to graduate to this biggest of stages. He played on several mini-tours, but had 2 successful years on the Web.com golf tour (very much like AAA baseball) before securing his Tour card in the fall of 2017.
In his rookie campaign in the Big Dance, he made 21 of 29 cuts. A 2nd place, a 3rd place, and 4 top 10s overall put him into the season-ending playoffs and secured his place in 2018-19. It’s been an up and down season so far, and Mitchell came into this week having missed 3 of his last 4 cuts. Known as a big hitter, he is actually a great iron player and works his way around an inconsistent putter.
Keith opened with a 68 on the tough PGA National course Thursday, and followed that up with a 66 Friday to share the lead. Saturday was moving day, and most folks moved backwards. But Mitchell stayed just off the lead with an even par 70. He’s been in the final groups before, but mostly let the big moment get to him and not able to keep momentum in his favor over the last few holes.
That seemed the case Sunday, as Mitchell, in the penultimate two-some, started with bogeys on his first 2 holes. A birdie on the 3rd and 9th holes brought him back to even par on the day and just 1 off the lead entering the back stretch. Another bogey at 11 seemed to doom his chances, but those in front also had a hard time navigating the finals holes, and Mitchell found his stride. He birdied 12, 13, 15, and had pretty easy pars on the extremely tough 16th and 17th holes. In front of him, both Brooks Koepka (3 majors, 2018 PGA Tour Player of the Year) and Rickie Fowler (already a winner this year, top 15 player in the world, and probably the 3rd most popular player on Tour behind Tiger and Phil) both birdied the 18th hole to get into the clubhouse at 8 under par and tied for the lead... with Mitchell. A birdie wins, a par makes a 3 way playoff.
The par 5 18th hole was playing easier Sunday, but Mitchell drove it long left into the fairway bunker, leaving him no option other than laying up with a wedge instead of going for the green in 2. Apparently he had the right yardage left, and his 3rd shot checked up about 15 feet short of the hole, but on a great line with a good view of birdie. With the crowd-favorites of Fowler and Koepka watching on TV, Mitchell followed his routine, then this happened...
Mitchell wasn’t confirmed a winner until the two players behind him failed to double-eagle the hole, but he didn’t have to wait long to know. The tweets are pouring in, so I’ll try to include some of those.
With the win, he gets a 2 year PGA Tour exemption, a check for $1,224,000.00, and an invitation to The Masters in April. Just another ‘Dawg doing Bulldog things. And as always...