South Africa’s Charl Schwarztel won for the first time in the US since taking the 2011 Masters, defeating Bill Haas in a playoff Sunday afternoon in Florida.
It certainly didn’t look that way heading into Sunday, with Schwartzel five strokes behind the leaders. He was still three strokes back after 12 holes, but got the fires burning hot when he made birdie from 65 feet on No. 13, and added a 25-foot birdie on No. 17. He closed with a 67 and beat Haas in the first hole of a playoff.
“I just needed to get over the hurdle of winning out here again,” Schwartzel said. “And I think the way today played out, with it being really difficult, you’re grinding just to make pars and keep the ball in play. I just needed to put it together on the weekend when it counted.”
While things haven’t been great for Schwartzel on US soil over the past five years, the 2016 season is turning into a landmark one for him. Valspar was his third win of the year, breaking his previous best of two wins in 2011.
For his impressive comeback at Innisbrook, Schwartzel earns $1.1 million and 500 FedEx Cup points. Haas shot a closing-round 72 after taking command of the tournament with back-to-back 67s on Friday and Saturday. After hitting just two bogeys in his middle two rounds, Haas had three on the front nine alone on Sunday.
The pair finished two strokes ahead of Ryan Moore, and three ahead of amateur Lee McCoy, a 22-year-old who played the course hundreds of times while growing up in a nearby subdivision, and passed on the chance to turn pro and collect a $292,00 paycheck.
Defending champion and world No. 1 Jordan Spieth shot a closing-round 73, which bookended with his ugly 76 to start the tournament, saw him finish tie for 18th.