In an enthralling final day at PGA National, it was Austrian, Sepp Straka, who claimed the trophy, with a fantastic back nine display giving the 28-year-old a one shot win over Ryder Cup star, Shane Lowry.
For the majority of the final round, it seemed to be a one-on-one dual between Lowry and American, Patrick Berger. However, over the last few holes, the weather would play a huge part, with Straka able to sneak in to the clubhouse unscathed whilst Lowry and Berger were left to battle the soaking conditions.
Needing a birdie at the last to force a play-off, the strong rain would be Lowry's undoing, with the 34-year-old unable to find the birdie he needed for extra holes.
"It's an absolute honour, it really is!" Explained Straka. "There's so many great players who have come before me - Markus Brier, he was a legend growing up and he's such a great guy. Obviously Bernd Wiesberger, he's got countless wins on the European Tour. So, it is just awesome.
"I had a good feeling today. I knew I just had to keep my head down, but I hit a pretty good shot at the 16th, even though the wind grabbed it and pulled it left, but I told my caddie it was a makeable putt and I gave it a good run and it just dropped in there."
Birdie at the last. ✔️@SeppStraka takes clubhouse lead with former @UGAGolf teammate and past champion @K_M_Mitchell looking on. pic.twitter.com/kwby4P3VsxFebruary 27, 2022
Beginning the final day, many predicted that it would be an easy win for overnight leader, Daniel Berger, whose three opening rounds of 65, 65 and 69 had put him five shots clear of Lowry, Straka, Kurt Kitayama and Chris Kirk.
However, after just six holes, Berger found himself one shot back of Lowry, with a huge six-shot swing making viewers at home wonder what was going on. Berger fought back though and, going into the back nine the duo found themselves locked in a stalemate.
That was until Lowry pulled away, with a birdie at the 11th being followed by a run of pars to extend his lead to two shots at one point. Soon though, it was Straka who became the Irishman's nearest challenger, with a birdie at the 14th, and then the 16th, bringing him into a share of the lead with the former Champion Golfer of the Year.
That soon changed dramatically though, with Mother Nature stepping in with a vengeance as the rain came pouring down in Florida. The timing of the wet weather fell perfectly into the hands of Straka, who had just bombed a 335-yard drive up the middle of the 18th fairway, leaving himself just a 6-iron in to the scoreable par 5.
As Lowry waited back on the tee, the Austrian safely found the centre of the green before two-putting for a birdie and a 10-under-par clubhouse total. This now meant that his opponent would need a birdie to force a play-off.
Stepping up to his tee shot, Lowry would pull his drive left, forcing him to lay-up. After finding his fairway with his second, his wedge shot unpredictably flew to the back of the green, with a 30-foot putt for birdie always unlikely to fall.
As Lowry missed, the title was Straka's, with the World No. 176 securing the biggest win of his career and a little slice of history.
"I tried to not think about winning (over the last few holes), said Straka. "My caddie did a great job today, especially on the 18th fairway. He made me add an extra club for the second shot, we were going to hit a 7-iron, but he made me hit a 6-iron when the rain came.
"The rain obviously slowed the greens down a little bit, so I gave it a little harder hit, but I was just trying to knock it as close as I could. I really don't know how to feel right now. It's crazy and I now go and get to enjoy the celebrations!"
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Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.
Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?
Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°
Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°
Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°
Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW
Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°
Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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