Honda Classic 2019: Keith Mitchell Holds Off Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka to Win

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2019

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA - MARCH 03:  Keith Mitchell plays his shot from the seventh tee during the final round of the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa on March 03, 2019 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Keith Mitchell earned the first PGA Tour victor of his career Sunday in the 2019 Honda Classic at PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Mitchell drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to finish at nine under and edge out Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler by one shot.


No words. @K_m_Mitchell steps up to the plate and delivers @TheHondaClassic. #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/csScf6KCF7

Here's a look at the top 10 finishers, with the full leaderboard available on PGATour.com.


2019 Honda Classic Leaderboard

1. Keith Mitchell (-9)

T2. Brooks Koepka (-8)

T2. Rickie Fowler (-8)

T4. Ryan Palmer (-7)

T4. Lucas Glover (-7)

6. Vijay Singh (-6)

T7. Wyndham Clark (-5)

T7. Kyoung-Hoon Lee (-5)

T9. Jim Furyk (-4)

T9. Jason Kokrak (-4)

T9. Sergio Garcia (-4)


Mitchell officially earned his PGA Tour card ahead of the 2018 season. Despite being relatively untested on this stage, he showed the closing ability of an experienced veteran.

The Tennessee native bogeyed the 11th hole to slip to one over for the round. He immediately rebounded with birdies on the 12th and 13th holes to get back under par and to seven under for the tournament. With a birdie on No. 15, Mitchell positioned himself for a possible playoff with Koepka and Fowler.

Fowler needed an excellent stretch of his own to be in a position for the title. He birdied three of the final four holes, including sinking a 44-foot putt on No. 17.


UNREAL. 🤯 @RickieFowler pours it in from 44 feet to get to -7. #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/94t5BBMcwW

Mitchell stepped up to the 18th tee box largely in control of his own destiny. He hooked his drive into a fairway bunker but got back on the fairway with his second shot. His third-shot approach landed on the green yet still left him with plenty of work to do.


This left to win @TheHondaClassic. If @K_m_Mitchell makes his birdie putt, he gets his first career win on TOUR. #QuickHits https://t.co/V3JqjObn25

As GolfChannel.com's Ryan Lavner noted, the Georgia product didn't fit the profile of a golfer prepared to sink a critical putt:

Ryan Lavner @RyanLavnerGC

Keith Mitchell: Ranked 218th out of 221 players in putting. Just drained a 15-footer on the 72nd hole to win the Honda. Macho.

Entering the final round, Ryan Palmer didn't appear to be much of a threat to challenge for the Honda Classic title. He was at even par through 54 holes, seven shots behind tournament leader Wyndham Clark.

Palmer then exploded for six birdies on the front nine Sunday. He fell back to earth a bit on the back nine, bogeying the 14th hole. He nailed back-to-back birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to move to seven under for the tournament.


Not backing down from The Bear Trap. @RyanPalmerPGA is one shot back of the lead. #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/MgIuBCbQBr

Because he was so far down the leaderboard, Palmer teed off at 10:20 a.m. ET. As a result, he had to wait in the clubhouse for hours to see whether his final score would hold up.

"Got a young guy, his first lead on Tour," Palmer said of Clark after wrapping up his round, per Mike McAllister of PGA Tour Digital. "Obviously Rickie and Brooks are right there. I've got an outside chance for sure. No telling what can happen on that back nine. Ten mph wind is not easy out here."

The standings shifted around significantly in the time between Palmer's final putt and the end of the tournament.

Tim Reynolds @ByTimReynolds

2 hours ago, Ryan Palmer finished at 7 under. 15 minutes ago, he was alone on the lead at the Honda. Now he's in a six-way tie.

Ultimately, Palmer couldn't do anything as Mitchell, Koepka and Fowler slowly climbed up the leaderboard.

Among the notable stars to make the cut but had little say on the final outcome, Sergio Garcia earned a share of ninth place at four under. Justin Thomas finished at even par to claim a tie for 30th. Webb Simpson ended up in 36th at one over.