Late birdie lifts Swafford to PGA Tour Puntacana Championship win

Published September 28, 2020, 8:28 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

Hudson Swafford plays his third shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship on September 27, 2020 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

Hudson Swafford followed a big birdie at the 17th with a clutch par putt at the last Sunday to win the US PGA Tour’s Corales Puntacana Championship in the Dominican Republic.

Swafford, who has battled injury since his first tour title at La Quinta, California, in 2017, saw a big lead evaporate but held on to card a three-under par 69 and victory with an 18-under total of 270.

He finished one stroke in front of Tyler McCumber, who had six birdies in his six-under par 66 at the windswept Corales Puntacana resort.

Canadian Mackenzie Hughes had four birdies and an eagle in a two-under par 70, but his fourth bogey of the day at the 18th saw him settle for solo third on 272.

“Man, it’s amazing,” Swafford said. “Words can’t really describe it.

“Last two years have been tough. Not family-wise, though. Me and my wife had our first son, life’s great and golf was really hard, and to do this, it’s fun.

“This is why I get up and grind,” he said before turning for an embrace with his wife, Katherine.

Swafford held the 36-hole lead but started the final round two shots behind leader Adam Long.

He charged to the top of the leaderboard with three birdies and an eagle in his first eight holes, reaching 20-under and seizing a four-shot lead.

It wouldn’t be a runaway, however, as a double-bogey at the 13th and a bogey at 17 dropped him back, with Hughes and McCumber applying pressure.

Hughes was 17-under for the tournament after a birdie bomb at the eighth. He answered a bogey at 13 with a birdie a the 14th, but with McCumber in the clubhouse on 17-under Hughes dropped a shot at the final hole.

Swafford, meanwhile, got his nose in front with a birdie at the par-three 17th, firing a perfect six-iron off the tee and draining the birdie putt.

“I actually hit two good shots on 16 and really didn’t hit a great putt and I was kind of bummed out,” Swafford said. “I was like, man, you’ve got to step up and just hit a good flighted six-iron. I’ve done it a hundred thousand times, love hitting that golf shot. Man, it was a good one and an even better putt.”

It was a tense finish at 18, where his approach left him on the front portion of the green with a ridge to clear to reach the pin.

His first putt was on line but left him a testing par attempt that he confidently rolled in.

“The first putt I thought I hit pretty hard, but it started bouncing,” he said. The second, he added, “was a solid putt and went right in.”