Kyle Stanley and Charles Howell III came into the final round of the Quicken Loans National four strokes off the lead. It would take a low round to even challenge leader David Lingmerth, and that’s what both produced, four-under 66s that vaulted them to the top of the leaderboard and into a sudden death playoff at seven-under 273. It would take just one hole for Stanley to earn his second US PGA Tour victory, five years after his first at the 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Stanley, 29, was emotional after the round, a product of finally breaking through once again after a couple of difficult years. He burst onto the scene in 2012 when he infamously missed a short putt while making a triple-bogey on the 18th at Torrey Pines that would have won the Farmers Insurance Open, before losing that event in a playoff. The former Clemson standout bounced back to win a week later in Phoenix, much like he has shown resilience in 2017. Stanley has five top-10s, nine top-25s and took the lead into the final round of the Players Championship, where he finished T-4.
He now has a victory to add to his already strong season, and it earns him a spot in the 2018 Masters as well as one in this month’s British Open. It will be his first appearance in both Majors since 2013.
Howell III has had a drought of his own, with his last victory coming ten years ago at Riviera Country Club. He came from three strokes back on the final day to win in 2007, and nearly topped that on Sunday coming back from four down. A bogey on the first playoff hole thwarted that bid and gave him the 16th runner-up finish of his career. It matches his best finish of the season (T-2 at Farmers Insurance Open), and gets him a spot in the field at the British Open.
Rickie Fowler equalled the best round of the day, a five-under 65 that featured a career-high nine birdies. Had it not been for a double-bogey six on the par-4 14th hole, Fowler would have found himself in the playoff alongside Stanley and Howell III. He finished in a tie for third at five-under 275. It’s his fifth finish inside the top-five this season.
Tying with Fowler was Martin Laird, who had a bogey-free round through 17 holes, but dropped a shot on the par-4 18th to finish with a three-under 67. It’s the Scotsman’s best finish of the season, and earns him at spot at Royal Birkdale.
Three Australians will rue missed opportunities at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. Rookie pro Curtis Luck played in the penultimate group on Sunday, starting the final round just three shots from the lead. He didn’t disgrace himself, carding an even-par 70 to share fifth place – by far his best result on the US Tour but a shot shy of securing an automatic start at the British Open this month. Geoff Ogilvy sat just a stroke from the lead after 36 holes but carded only one birdie in next 31 holes to dip to a share of 13th. Like Luck, Ogilvy also spilled a chance to book a British Open berth. Marc Leishman, already exempt at Royal Birkdale, opened and closed with four-under 66s but sandwiched a pair of 72s between them to share fifth place alongside Luck.