Sweden’s Carl Pettersson won the Heritage Classic at Hilton Head in South Carolina on Sunday to claim his fifth PGA Tour title as Luke Donald gave up his No. 1 ranking to Rory McIlroy.
Pettersson shot a final round two-under 69 to finish the tournament at 14-under, a comfortable five shots clear of his nearest rival, former Masters champion Zach Johnson (70).
“The swing felt good,” Pettersson told reporters. “I felt calm. It was a great feeling today.”
It was his first PGA Tour win since the 2010 Canadian Open and allowed him to match Jesper Parnevik’s total for most won by a Swedish player.
Donald needed to finish eighth or better to retain his No. 1 ranking, but the Englishman tied for 37th after a final round 71 for a two-over total 286.
Colt Knost’s chances of winning his first PGA Tour title vanished with a 74 that put him third, one stroke behind Johnson of the US. Kevin Stadler (68) and Billy Mayfair (69) tied for fourth at six under par, a distant eight shots back.
The outcome was never in doubt after Pettersson birdied three of the first five holes on Sunday.
“Getting off to a birdie on No. 1 was great,” said Pettersson, who sank a 24 foot putt at the first and thrived on the outward side throughout the tournament. “The whole front nine I played really good.”
Pettersson said a swing change he incorporated three weeks ago at the Houston Open had paid off.
“In Houston I found that new swing key, just opened up my stance and left my left hip clear through the ball,” he said. “I’ve played great. So hopefully this feeling lasts a long time.”
The last time the portly Pettersson tinkered with his game and lifestyle it did not work out so well.
“In ’08 I had a good year. I won Greensboro that year. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do to get to the next level and fitness, and I really started working out and eating better, and I lost 30 pounds [13.6kg] very quickly,” he recalled.
“That was during the offseason and it really threw my golf game. In ’09 I played terrible, I finished 150-something on the money list,” the 34-year-old said.
“It took a long time, just the last six months I felt comfortable again. Threw my timing off,” he said, adding that his Canadian win in 2010 was more like catching “lightning in a bottle.”
“I felt like this year my game was starting to come back to where it was. I played really solid. It’s fun to play again, and I kept the weight on,” Pettersson added.
Pettersson said putting the weight back on had been easy.
“Well, you drink 10 beers and [eat] a tub of ice cream before you go to bed,” he said, drawing laughs at his press conference. “That puts it on quickly.”