Kevin Kisner survives roller coaster final round to win Wyndham Championship
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Kevin Kisner survives roller coaster final round to win Wyndham Championship

Aug 15, 2021; Greensboro, North Carolina, USA; Kevin Kisner hits his approach shot on the ninth hole during the final round of the Wyndham Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports


This still ain’t no hobby for Kevin Kisner.

Sunday’s final round at the Wyndham Championship took a bunched leaderboard to a new level. A wild back nine took last week’s chaos up a notch and led to a six-way playoff between Adam Scott, Si Woo Kim, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Roger Sloan, and Kevin Na with Kisner emerging victorious.

The playoff participants ran the gamut of the PGA Tour, from 2013 Masters champion Scott and Players champion Kim to Sloan, who’s best finish this season was sixth place and came into the week 131st in the FedEx Cup standings.

The sudden death playoff equaled the largest playoff in PGA Tour history and took two holes before crowning Kisner as the champion. After Kim, Kisner, Na, and Grace all missed the green to the left as the field played the 18th a second time. Sloan hit a beautiful draw with a 6 iron to 12 feet on the first playoff hole.

After a massive drive, Scott had just 145 yards in on the 505-yard par 4 and flushed a pitching wedge to just over four feet. Kisner’s pitch from short left looked like it was going to fall for a miraculous birdie, but it broke just to the right and missed. All four players who missed the green got up and down. Sloan’s putt just missed low, and Scott’s putt missed to the left, so the group played on.

Kisner hit a beautiful baby draw on the second playoff hole. He knew it was good right off the clubface, gave it a saucy club twirl, and walked after it as the ball settled four feet away.

Grace gave himself a good look at birdie, but his 11-foot putt missed just low as he fell to his knees in disbelief. Kisner’s putt dropped dead center for his first win since 2017, as he finally won a playoff after coming in 0-5. Kisner described his win in a way only he can.

"It almost felt like we were at home playing a hit-and-giggle," Kisner said. “I mean, we can overanalyze this thing to death, but maybe there's something to the fact that the guy who's probably played in more late-Sunday afternoon six-somes than the others was the guy who won it.”

Kisner’s win immediately puts him into the conversation for a captain’s pick from Steve Stricker for next month’s Ryder Cup. Kisner has excelled in match play his entire career and his personality would fit the Ryder Cup well. Kisner summed up his thoughts on that issue quickly.

“I would love to see a text from Steve Stricker,” Kisner said.

54-hole leader Russell Henley came into the day with a three-shot lead and looked like he would be the first wire-to-wire winner on Tour this season. But things unraveled quickly on the back nine.

Henley led by three thru 10, but he missed a two-foot par putt at 11, made another bogey on 12 and a third at 14. He got one back with a birdie at 15 that kept him in it. Henley came down the 18th with a chance to win outright with a birdie, and join the playoff with a par. Henley’s approach settled just behind the green, his birdie putt trickled four feet past, and another brutal lip out ended his chances.

“Two three-putts on the back nine got me. I felt like I hit both those putts on 18 how I wanted to,” Henley said. “I feel like I hit the second putt right where I was looking and it broke. Just made some mistakes. I knew I had to shoot under par today, so just disappointed. It stings really bad.”

Needing a spectacular final round to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, Chesson Hadley made his first ever hole in one and shot 62—the low round of the day—to sneak into the top 125 on the number.

Hadley described his hole in one celebration calling himself a baby giraffe as he jumped around the tee box. The finish clearly meant a lot to him, as the emotions of the day poured out of him following the round.

“It was a great day. It's been a tough two years. I haven't felt like a lot of good has happened,” Hadley said. “I had some success at Congaree, but kind of that was more bitter than sweet leaving there even though I finished second. So just to have some good things happen today with the hole-in-one and at least giving myself an opportunity to work myself into New York next week is incredible.”

Hadley’s good fortune came after Justin Rose three-putted for bogey on 18, as the Englishman will miss the FedEx Cup playoffs for the first time after finishing 126th in the standings. Rose looked like he would come up clutch at the end, but his valiant effort fell just short.

“It's hard to know exactly what you need to do out there, but you know each shot's important. I had some good putts, some good looks coming in,” Rose said. “Slightly surprised when I saw 15 under was tied for the lead there on 18, which is sort of even more gut wrenching to finish 13 under and probably miss out on the FedExCup as well, so couldn't be a worse result on the day.”

About the author

Peter Santo

Peter Santo

Peter Santo is a golf writer and a graduate of Emerson College. He previously covered all sports for The Boston Globe, Associated Press, and The Washington Times.

When not writing about or playing golf, he can often be found listening to or creating country music.

He can be reached by email at petersanto1129@gmail.com

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