Planet Golf — 16 April 2012 by GW staff and news services
Roundup: Bulk rules at RBC Heritage

Bulk returned to the PGA Tour in a big way.

In an outcome that featured some beefy bashers, hefty Carl Pettersson shot a 2-under 69 on Sunday to capture the RBC Heritage title, a victory for all robund golfers out there.

“Ultimately, just ‘cause you don’t look like an athlete doesn’t mean you’re not an athlete,” Pettersson said. “We’re not running a marathon out here, we’re walking 18 holes.”

No one traversed the Harbour Town Golf Links better than Pettersson. He finished at 14 under to win his fifth PGA Tour title and first since 2010. Petterson moves to No. 4 in the FedExCup standings and tied countryman Jesper Parnevik for most wins ever on Tour by a Swedish player.

“It was great,” said Pettersson, now a U.S. citizen. “I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself, so I kind of downplayed the whole thing. But getting off to a birdie on one was great.”

Zach Johnson shot a 70 to finish second at 9-under, while also-robust Colt Knost‘s chances for his first PGA Tour title fell apart with a 74. He was third at 8-under.

Following Pettersspon’s key, heavy-set Kevin Stadler (68) and fellow tour veteran Billy Mafair (69) tied for fourth at 6- under.

But throughout the day, no one could catch Pettersson. He nailed a 24-footer on No. 1 to get things started with a birdie. He added another birdie, from 16 feet on the par-3 fourth hole, then two-putted from 40 feet on the par-5 fifth to go up by four shots. When Johnson took bogey at No. 10, Pettersson was five strokes in front and cruising.

“I like all the holes,” he said. “I don’t have one hole on the front nine where I feel awkward over the tee shot or second shot.”

He fared well on the greens, needing just 104 putts over 72 holes.

Knost, meanwhile, started Sunday’s final round in the final pairing but nerves got the best of him.

He missed an 8-foot putt for par and made bogey on No. 1 for a second straight round to drop three shots behind Pettersson. And just like Saturday, Knost fought back with a birdie on the second hole — he made eagle there in the third round — to close in on Pettersson.

Knost’s chances all but ended a hole later with a horrible drive out of bounds left on No. 3 that led to a triple-bogey seven and left him five shots behind and out of contention.

“I hit it good this weekend, but the one swing (on No. 3) got me in trouble,” Knost said. “I made 7 and that was kind of it.”

Pettersson didn’t let Knost’s troubles affect his focus.

“He had a tough time out there,” Pettersson said. “But there were still other guys with a chance.”

Johnson, four strokes behind Pettersson at the start, tried to make a charge with birdies on the second, fourth and fifth holes. Johnson closed to three shots when he birdied No. 15 and Pettersson had his first bogey of the day moments later.

But Johnson ran out of steam on the 16th hole when he drove into a waste bunker and took bogey. Still, it was Johnson’s best showing of the year and first top-10 finish since January.

“There were a couple of bumps along the road, but a lot of positives,” Johnson said.

Pettersson’s last victory came at the RBC Canadian Open in 2010 and this win was likely just as popular with first-year Heritage sponsor Royal Bank of Canada. The financial institution, along with the Boeing Co., stepped in last June to back the cash-strapped event which was in danger of disappearing without such support.

Tournament notes:

— Pettersson has won four of six times when holding the third-round lead/co-lead on Tour, including his last two (2008 Wyndham Championship).

— He is the sixth of 16 third-round leaders/co-leaders to win on TOUR in 2012 (Steve Stricker/Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Mark Wilson/Humana Challenge, Rory McIlroy/Honda Classic, George McNeill/Puerto Rico Open and Tiger Woods/Arnold Palmer Invitational).

–The third-round lead/co-leader has now won 31 of 44 times at the RBC Heritage. Pettersson led Colt Knost by one shot entering the final round.

— Pettersson is the sixth player to win the RBC Heritage without having competed in the Masters the week before, since the RBC Heritage moved into its slot after the Masters in 1983 (2011 the exception when it was played two weeks after the Masters). The others are Brian Gay (2009), Boo Weekley (2007), Aaron Baddeley (2006), Bob Tway (1995) and Davis Love III (1987).

— Pettersson is the first player from Sweden to win in the 44 year history of the RBC Heritage. Is the ninth international winner of the RBC Heritage and first since Aaron Baddeley in 2006.

— The winner ties Tiger Woods (Arnold Palmer Invitational) for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season (5 strokes).

— Entering the final round, Knost was the only player in the field with a chance to record all four rounds in the 60s. He shot a final round 74 (67-66-69-74). Only 26 players have ever recorded all four rounds in the 60s at the RBC Heritage. The last two were Jim Furyk and Brian Davis in 2010.

— Zach Johnson (2nd) has made all 10 of his cuts this year. He has missed at least two cuts each of his previous eight seasons on TOUR. Johnson made his eighth start at the RBC Heritage, missing the cut in 2008 and 2011. His best finish at Harbour Town was sixth in 2007.

— Boo Weekley (T6) made his sixth appearance at the RBC Heritage, with five top-15 finishes (1-2007, 1-2008, T13-2009, T12-2010, T6-2012).

— For the second-consecutive year, the RBC Heritage is a key player in determining the top-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking. Last year, Luke Donald would have overtaken Martin Kaymer for the top spot had he won at Harbour Town (he finished second). This year, Donald needed a top eight finish to retain the top spot in the rankings, but finished T37.

Sean O’Hair played by himself as Sunday’s first tee time and finished a 2-over 73 in one hour, 55 minutes.

Champions Tour

Perseverance paid off for Michael Allen.

Allen won the Encompass Insurance Pro-Am on Sunday for his second Champions Tour title, closing with a 3-under 68 for a three-stroke victory over Kenny Perry.

“It’s been a long time since I beat these guys,” Allen said. “I haven’t beaten them very often. It’s very nice to get on 18 and finally go, ‘man, I got them all.’”

Allen also won the 2009 Senior PGA Championship. He was winless in 40 Champions Tour events since then.

“To be honest, I’ve played a lot of really good golf out here and I knew it was going to come again soon,” Allen said.

Allen finished the three-day event at 12 under. He took a five-shot advantage into the final round, tying the tournament record for the largest 36-hole margin.

“I’ve never had a five-shot lead,” Allen said. “Fuzzy (Zoeller) told me to play like I was broke, so I tried to do that. You never quite know what you really have to do until it’s over.”

Allen bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4 at TPC Tampa Bay to cut his lead to one, but rebounded with birdies on two of the next three holes. He extended his advantage to four shots with birdies on 12 and 14.

“There was a little flutter of hope when he dropped a couple early, but he put that to rest pretty quick,” said Peter Senior, who finished third at 7 under. “He’s been playing really, really well. From tee to green, he’s just on a bit of a roll. He’s got his game in good shape.”

Allen has four top-three finishes in six events this year.


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