It’s a hard-earned first for Sebastian Munoz…
The 26-year-old Colombian professional golfer made a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to force a playoff, and then beat Sungjae Im with a par on the first extra hole to win the Sanderson Farms Championship for his first PGA Tour victory.
Munoz, who closed with a 2-under 70, made it two straight weeks for South American winners, following Joaquin Niemann‘s victory last week at the Greenbrier.
“Jaco’s win gave me the belief I needed, the little extra belief I’m good enough, I’m here,” Munoz said.
Niemann won by 6 shots at the Greenbrier. Munoz had it far more difficult.
He was among four players in the mix over the back nine at the Country Club of Jackson, and it looked as though Im would snatch his first victory when he made a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-5 14th, got up and down from a bunker on the reachable 15th for birdie, and made it three straight birdies with a 12-foot putt on 16.
He closed with a 66, and that looked like it might be enough.
Byeong Hun An made consecutive bogeys to fall out of the mix. Carlos Ortiz couldn’t get a putt to fall.
Munoz lost two good scoring opportunities by hitting his drive well right of the fairway on the 14th, and then flubbing a lob shot left of the 15th green that went into the bunker, leading to bogey. Down to his last hole, he played it to perfection with a big drive, an approach to 15 feet below the hole and the most important putt of his young career.
The Bogota native, who played his college golf at the University of North Texas, poured in the birdie putt to join Im at 18-under 270.
“We just decided on a line, kept it as simple as can and just strike the putt,” Munoz said.
The playoff on the 18th hole wasn’t as clean.
Im went left into the Bermuda rough and caught a flier, sending the ball well over the green against the grandstand. Munoz was in the right rough and, expecting the ball to come out hot, he abbreviated his swing and it came out some 30 yards short. His chip-and-run rolled out to just under 4 feet. Im did well to pitch out of rough to just over 6 feet by the hole, but his par putt didn’t even touch the cup and he started walking soon after he hit it.
Munoz rolled in the par putt and the celebration was on.
“I’m speechless,” he said.
This is the first time since the tournament began in 1986 that it was not held the same week as another PGA Tour event with a stronger field. That means it gets full FedEx Cup points, and Munoz earned a spot in the Masters for the first time.
The playoff ended a streak of 38 consecutive PGA Tour events that were decided in regulation, dating to Charles Howell III winning in a playoff at Sea Island at the end of last year.