Tyler Duncan wins RSM Classic with birdie at 18

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Tyler Duncan wins RSM Classic with birdie at 18

PGA Tour

Tyler Duncan wins RSM Classic with birdie at 18

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ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Tyler Duncan delivered his own storybook ending at the RSM Classic.

After Brendon Todd’s magical tale was put on ice Sunday in the chilly air coming off the St. Simons Sound, Duncan, 30, won his first PGA Tour title with a 12-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff with Webb Simpson.

It was Duncan’ first win in a multiple-day event since the 2011 Indiana Amateur. He didn’t win while playing college golf at Purdue and didn’t win at any level in professional golf.

Duncan entered the final round after making 18 pars on Saturday in the easiest conditions of the week, which came a day after he shot a 61 to grab the lead. On Sunday, he birdied three of his last four holes – including from six feet on the 17th and 25 feet on the 18th – to shoot 65 and earn a spot in a playoff.

After he and Simpson, who shot 67 to get in the playoff at 19 under, each parred the first playoff hole on the Seaside Course, Duncan’s 12-footer gave him the title and playing spots in next year’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Maui, the Masters, The Players in his hometown of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and the PGA Championship.

RSM CLASSIC: Scores | Gallery | PGA Tour schedule, results

“I don’t even know what to say,” said Duncan, who was digging deep to earn his PGA Tour card in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals just two months ago. “I’m just so happy to be out here playing and to win, it’s unbelievable.

“I knew it was going to be a tough day out here.  It was colder, the wind picked up and I was just trying to do the best I could, fight until the end.”

His best at the end was good enough. He became the fourth first-time winner this fall, joining Sebastian Munoz, Lanto Griffin and Joaquin Niemann.

Simpson was looking to win for the first time since capturing the 2018 Players Championship. The five-time winner on the Tour, including the 2012 U.S. Open, had earned four runner-up finishes but no victories since the Players. He was in position again but his 28-foot putt to win on the 72nd hole slid by. It was his second playoff loss here – he lost to Ben Crane on the second extra hole in 2011.

“Another close call,” Simpson said. “Good for Tyler for making birdie on the last two holes in regulation and again there, so happy for him. I felt like it was going to go my way, but that’s what great players do, they birdie the last two holes like he did. So tough to finish that way, but all in all, a great week.”

Munoz, who won earlier this fall in the Sanderson Farms Championship, finished with a 68 to wind up third. His attempt from 25 feet on the 72nd hole – which would have put him in the playoff – missed to the left.

Todd, who once contemplated quitting the game and opening up a pizza franchise after missing 37 of 41 cuts during 2016-18 as he battled the driver yips, became the talk of the game after winning the last two PGA Tour events. He was trying to become the first player to win three consecutive PGA Tour tournaments since Tiger Woods in 2006.

After an 8-under 62 in the third round – his 12th consecutive round in the 60s – Todd took a two-shot lead into the final 18. But a double-bogey 6 on the fifth and bogeys on the 12th and 14th doomed his chances. He didn’t make a birdie until the 15th hole and shot 72 to finish fourth.

“Had another opportunity this week, but it didn’t go my way,” Todd said. “But I’m just really confident now. I’ve got good control of where the golf ball’s going tee to green. The area that needs to be really good for me is 125 and in and that area’s getting really good again. I didn’t chip very good today, but that’s just the circumstances. We’ll just keep working at it and we’ll be ready to go in January.”

Duncan is starting his third year on the PGA Tour. He failed to keep his card last year and had to regain full status through the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.

“I’ve been working really hard on controlling my emotions and breathing and all that stuff and it paid off down the stretch here, especially this playoff,” Duncan said. “I was just able to keep calm and trust what I was doing. I’ve been working really, really hard these last two, three months and I played well at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, but other than that I hadn’t done a whole lot.

“So happy to see it pay off here.”

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