Keith Mitchell unbothered being a 'no-name' champion

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Keith Mitchell unbothered being a 'no-name' champion

PGA Tour

Keith Mitchell unbothered being a 'no-name' champion

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Not many predicted Keith Mitchell would win the 2019 Honda Classic. Not many golf fans even recognized his name before he hoisted the tournament’s trophy over his head Sunday after sinking a birdie on the 18th hole for the win.

The 27-year-old out of the University of Georgia turned pro in 2014 and played in his first PGA Tour event in March 2017 at the Valspar Championship, but was relatively unknown when he stepped on the course at PGA National last weekend. Before the Honda Classic, he even missed the cut in four of his last six events.

Known or not, his name floated to the top of the leaderboard as the tournament progressed.

Mitchell was one of the tournament’s leaders late in the third round Saturday along with Sungjae Im, but despite his solid game through three rounds, NBC’s Dan Hicks mistakenly called Mitchell “Kevin Mitchell”โ€” the name of a former San Francisco Giants third basemanโ€” during the broadcast.

Mitchell, Keith Mitchell that is, made light of the mistake on Twitter Sunday after he won it all.

“You can call me Kevin all you want,” Mitchell tweeted in response. “Just make the check out to Keith.”

Mitchell doesn’t mind being considered a “no-name” player though. Instead of it bruising his ego, he used the anonymity to his advantage.

โ€œI feel like I play better when I try to come from behind or when people don’t expect you to win and a friend of mine sent me a newspaper article and it says โ€˜No-name is leading Honda after Friday.โ€™ And I don’t expect to have any great stuff to be written about me because I’ve only been out here for a year, so I’m not saying that in a negative light,” Mitchell said Sunday, according to the PGA Tour.

โ€œI just used that as a little kind of emotion that everyone gets their start somewhere, everyone gets their first win somewhere, and I wanted this to be mine and I was able to do it.”

Mitchell’s path to winning the Honda Classic was hotly contested by Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler until Mitchell’s final stroke on the 18th hole. Mitchell finished one-stroke ahead of Fowler and Koepka at 9-under 271 fpr the tournament. He closed the final round 3-under 67 with birdies four of the final seven holes.

Here’s the moment he won his first Tour event.

Mitchell will make a quick turnaround from his Honda Classic championship as he’s expected to play in this weekend’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill beginning Thursday.

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