Spieth charges, Kisner holds on to win Colonial by stroke
FORT WORTH, Texas — Kevin Kisner came so close several times before finally winning on the PGA Tour. He now has another victory, withstanding a charge by Jordan Spieth at Colonial, after two more runner-up finishes this year.
“You start questioning if you’re going to win again after a while,” Kisner said. “Everybody was questioning if I was ever going to win. Then I win, and then everybody questions if I was ever going to win again.”
The affirmative answer came Sunday when Kisner birdied the first three holes on the back nine at Hogan’s Alley to go ahead, then finished his 4-under 66 with a clutch par save at the 18th after a wayward tee shot and an approach off the back side of the green and well below the hole.
At 10-under 270, the 33-year-old Kisner finished a stroke ahead of Spieth (65), Sean O’Hair (66) and Jon Rahm (66). He earned a check of just more than $1.2 million, along with the winner’s plaid jacket.
Kisner was a runner-up four times, including three playoffs during the 2015 season, before winning the RSM Classic in November 2015. Then came two more runner-ups this year.
Spieth was standing on a chair to see over the crowd at the 18th green after his bogey-free round when Kisner putted up the mound to 5 feet of the cup and then made the winning putt.
“I was going to take my chances with a (par) 4 and see what happened,” said Kisner, who never considered a different club for his last two shots.
Rahm, who the last two years won the Ben Hogan Award as the nation’s top college player, had just watched his 10-foot birdie chance skirt left of the hole.
Spieth, who had missed consecutive cuts at The Players Championship and the AT&T Byron Nelson, was trying to become the only player other than Ben Hogan to win consecutive Colonials. Hogan won five times, including the first two in 1946 and 1947, along with consecutive wins again in 1952 and 1953.
“I could look back at the end of the year and this could have been the most important round of the year,” Spieth said. “I hope that’s the case.”
After starting the day five strokes behind 54-hole leader Webb Simpson, Spieth had birdies on the first two holes before a nearly 20-footer lipped out at the 453-yard No. 3 hole. He also just missed a 12-footer at No. 9, and a 25-footer at the 446-yard 12th hole rolled over the left edge of the cup, and had another near-miss on a 12-footer at No. 17.
Kisner blew a three-stroke lead at the turn on the final day of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and lost by a stroke. He made a nearly 95-foot chip-in for eagle to get him and fellow Aiken, South Carolina, resident Scott Brown into playoff at the Zurich Classic’s new team format before losing on the fourth playoff hole.
At Colonial, an unexpected 40-foot birdie putt at the 404-yard 10th hole started Kisner’s back-nine push.
“It was a difficult putt just to two-putt. It fell in on the lost roll,” he said. “That kind of gets those juices flowing.”
When he made a 10-foot birdie at No. 12, Kisner was 10 under — no other player reached that mark. Only one other time since 1999 was Colonial’s winning score higher than 11 under, in 2014 when Adam Scott won in a playoff after shooting 9 under in regulation.
After a 14-foot birdie putt at the par-4 15th, Kisner had a two-stroke lead. That was the same hole where Spieth, playing two groups ahead of him, punctuated an 11-foot birdie putt with a fist pump.
“I didn’t do any scoreboard watching and really thought I needed to get to 11 under,” Spieth said. “I hit so many great putts today. I hit a bad putt on 17. It was pretty frustrating.”
About the same time Kisner made a bogey at the par-3 16th, Spieth was hitting his drive way right at the 18th hole and went on to save par after a chip to 5 feet. Kisner hit a similar drive, and also saved par.
Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open winner, was the 54-hole leader by two strokes, but started the final round with an unusual bogey at the par-5 first hole. His only birdie came at No. 9, and he bogeyed the 18th when he drove into the left rough after Kisner had already posted his final putt. Simpson had a 71 to finish fifth at 8 under.