The RSM Classic

The RSM Classic

The RSM Classic
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Winner: Tyler Duncan

It was Tyler Duncan’s win but it was Brendon Todd’s show. For three rounds, anyway. This was in the RSM Classic, the grand finale of the PGA Tour for 2019, and Duncan, 30, scoring his first tour victory in a playoff against Webb Simpson, put on quite a show of his own. Would he ever make a bogey? Well, yes — one. Todd was the little known player almost driven out of golf and into pizza by the full-body yips who won two consecutive starts, the Bermuda Championship and the Mayakoba Classic. And now the world was watching: Could he get that rare straight third? Well, it was in sight. Until the final round.

Thus the RSM provided a crackling last act for the tour late in November. It was largely a three-man chase across two courses — one round at the par-72 Plantation and three at the par-70 Seaside. Duncan and Todd started in the pack in the first round — Duncan at five under (a 67 at the Plantation) and Todd at four under (66 at the Seaside). Simpson birdied seven of the Plantation’s last 10 for a 65, seven under and a one-stroke lead. “My reads were better on the second nine,” Simpson said.

Then a free-for-all broke out in the second round. Duncan battered the Seaside for seven birdies and a hole-out eagle at No. 8, a nine-under 61 and a two-stroke lead at 14 under. “I don’t think I’ve ever had back-to-back rounds with no bogeys,” he said. Todd shot six under (66) at the Plantation and was four behind. He wasn’t thinking of three straight wins. “I’m looking at [this] as one tournament,” he said. Then he leaped into the third-round lead with an eight-birdie 62 at Seaside, getting to 18 under. He led by two.

“It was like a video game out there today,” Todd said. Todd’s quest for that third straight win died in the final round in a double bogey out of the native area at the par-four fifth. Two pars and two bogeys on the back nine gave him a two-over 72 and dropped him to fourth at 16 under. The streak had run out of gas. “It just seemed like I couldn’t summon the energy,” he said.

Duncan, playing three groups earlier, gave Simpson something to shoot at. He shook off a bogey at No. 1 — his only bogey — and posted six birdies the rest of the way, with three over the last four holes: a two-putt at 15, a seven-footer at 17 and a 25-footer at 18 for a 65, five under for a 263 and a 19-under total.

“That’s what great players do,” said Simpson. “They birdie the last two holes.” He birdied 15 on two putts and 16 from 22 feet and closed with a 67 to tie at 19 under. Duncan’s first win, then, came on a 12-foot birdie putt on the second playoff visit to the 18th. At last. And how did it feel? “Honestly, I don’t even know,” Duncan said. “I’m just so happy to be here playing, and to win is just unbelievable.” And thus the curtain fell on the PGA Tour for 2019.


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