A brilliant left-handed recovery shot helped Brendon Todd of the US to his first PGA Tour title, a two-stroke victory at the US$6.9 million HP Byron Nelson Championship in Texas on Sunday.
Todd, who had never finished better than sixth on the PGA Tour, displayed impressive poise and a sizzling short game to card a bogey-free four-under 66 at the TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving.
He finished on 14-under 266, while Canadian Mike Weir (67), without a win since 2007, claimed second place on 12-under.
Todd collected US$1.24 million and an invitation to next year’s Masters, less than two hours down the road from where he went to college at the University of Georgia in Athens.
“I thought I could win on the PGA Tour. It’s taken a while, but now that I’ve won it’s a dream come true,” the 28-year-old told reporters. “I’m really excited, the relief I finally have a chance to play the PGA Tour for multiple years, [but] No. 1 [is] going to Augusta.”
Todd hit a number of good shots, including a bunker shot he holed at the par-three second, but none was more memorable than his second shot at the par-three 13th.
After yanking his tee shot 20 yards left of the hole, he was stymied by a tree, so the right-hander instead chipped his second shot left-handed. He made near perfect contact and his ball trundled down to within seven feet of the hole, from where he sank the putt for an unlikely par.
“I just took my four-iron and just hit it with the back of the club,” he said. “It just ran down there perfect. I didn’t care where it went. I just wanted to get it down near the hole.”
Buoyed by the reprieve, Todd parred his way home, although victory was not assured until he drilled a 15-foot par putt at the 17th and then avoided water with his tee shot at the last.
“There were so many up-and-downs on the back nine, but that putt on 17 was huge. It allowed me to play a little more conservatively on 18. I couldn’t even explain how [nervous] I felt on the back nine today,” he said. “I made one double-bogey in the first round and after that absolutely scored my pants off. I have a great short game and even I’ll say it was amazing this week.”
Meanwhile, Weir recorded his best finish since 2010.
The 2003 Masters champion was the only one to exert any pressure on Todd on the back nine as one player after another fell away.
Nobody was more disappointed than South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, who started the final round tied for the lead with Todd, but crashed out with a 74 to finish joint 11th.