Sunday on the coast of Georgia, Adam Svensson handled the cold air and the heat of contention as if he had been there before, closing with a 6-under 64 to win the RSM Classic on Sunday at Sea Island for his first PGA Tour victory.
Svensson, a 28-year-old from South Surrey, was locked in a four-way tie for the lead on the closing stretch of the Seaside course when he poured in an 18-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole, and then hit a tee shot to 10 feet on the par-3 17th for a birdie that gave him a cushion.
After his win, the Earl Marriott graduate told PGA media he just focused on his game.
“I knew I was playing great – I just had to stay out of my own way,” he said.
“At the start of the day I told myself, just don’t make a bogey. I just had to keep myself under control.”
Brian Harman (65) and Sahith Theegala (66) were in the group ahead of him and missed birdie chances from about 25 feet on the closing hole.
Callum Tarren of England (64) was the first to post at 17-under par and was hopeful of a playoff.
Svensson capped off his bogey-free final round with a par for a two-shot win.
He finished at 19-under 263 and played the tougher Seaside course in 20 under the final three rounds. His tournament began with a 73 on the Plantation, which put him in a tie for 108th. His first job was to make the cut. He wound up winning the trophy.
“To come out on top – it’s unbelievable,” he told PGA media.
Taylor Pendrith (69) of Richmond Hill, Ont., tied for 15th at 13 under.
Svensson is starting his third full year on the PGA Tour and gets a two-year exemption, along with a trip to the Masters and the PGA Championship. He has never played a major.
“To be honest, it’s not even real right now,” Svensson said when he finished. “I’m so happy. I put so much work in. To win on the PGA Tour means everything to be me. … I just kept believing in myself, and here I am.”
Theegala recovered from a double bogey on the par-5 seventh hole when he was in trouble left off the tee and then hit a chip that came back to him from behind the green. He made five birdies over the last 11 holes.
Harman got in the game late, hitting a fairway metal on the par-5 15th hole that was inches away from rolling in, setting up a short eagle. He birdied the 16th to share the lead, but had to settle for pars on the final two holes.
Patrick Rodgers and Ben Martin, who shared the 54-hole lead, couldn’t keep up. Rodgers didn’t make his first birdie until the 13th hole and closed with a 70 to tie for 10th, while Martin shot a 72.
Cole Hammer, who graduated from Texas in May was playing on a sponsor exemption, shot a 65 to tie for fifth, which gets him into the Sony Open.
The PGA Tour now takes a six-week break in the final wraparound season before resuming with the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua the first week of January.
By winning, Svensson was the last man to qualify for that field, the first elevated event that will have a $15 million purse.
Svensson won $1,458,000, more than he won in either of his two previous seasons on the PGA Tour. He is the second Canadian to win this season, joining Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., who won in Mississippi.
– The Associated Press