PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico

Patton Kizzire had a four-shot lead with seven holes remaining, right about the time nerves can surface for a player trying to win his first PGA Tour title.

Kizzire made it look like a walk on the beach.

Never flinching during a 36-hole Sunday with Rickie Fowler, Kizzire saved par with big putts on three holes on the back nine, closed with rounds of 66-67, didn’t make a bogey over the final 21 holes and won the rain-plagued OHL Classic at Mayakoba to earn his first trip to the Masters.

Fowler fell too far behind and began his rally too late. Two straight birdies brought him to within one shot going to the 18th at El Camaleon Golf Club, only for Fowler to hit a short iron some 35 feet left of the flag and leave his birdie attempt short.

Kizzire began his marathon day by making a 12-foot bogey putt on the first hole of the third round. He began the final round by making a 10-foot par save.

He now speaks from experience. The 31-year-old Kizzire, who took a long road to the PGA Tour after leaving Auburn, won in his 62nd career start as he begins his third full season in the big leagues.

He finished at 19-under 265 and the perks were just starting to sink in. Kizzire earns a two-year exemption through the 2019-20 season. He starts next year on Maui for the Sentry Tournament of Championship at Kapalua. He’ll be at the Masters in April and the PGA Championship in August.

Fowler made him work until the very end.

Kizzire’s tee shot on the 18th hole came so close to a bunker that he had to stand close to the ball to avoid creating an awkward stance with his feet in the stand, and he hit 8-iron to about 25 feet. After Fowler left his birdie attempt well short, Kizzire rapped his putt within a few inches and tapped in for the winning par.

Kizzire won the tournament with key putts on the back nine, but the tournament turned in his favor at the end of the third round. Fowler had a one-shot lead when he made bogey on the 17th hole and Kizzire made birdie. That two-shot swing gave Kizzire a one-shot lead, and he quickly expanded it in the fourth round.

Kizzire saved par with a 10-foot putt on No. 1 as Fowler made bogey, and then Kizzire birdied the second hole and is lead was already at three shots.

Fowler never got any closer until the final few holes, and by then it was too late.

Fowler, the only player in the top 10 in the world who played this week. With his runnerup finish — the 12th time in his PGA Tour career he has finished second — Fowler goes to No. 7 in the world ahead of Rory McIlroy.



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