Moore upstages Spieth and co to claim thrilling first PGA Tour win

Ronan MacNamara
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Taylor Moore celebrates at the Valspar (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Taylor Moore produced a superb finish to claim his maiden PGA Tour title at the Valspar Championship in a thrilling Sunday at Innisbrook.

Moore came from behind to spoil the party with three birdies in five holes on the back nine, including playing the infamous ‘Snake Pit’ in one-under to set the clubhouse target on ten-under after a 67.

As Tommy Fleetwood, Jordan Spieth and Adam Schenk made late errors, Moore was left sitting above the rest as he pipped Schenk by a shot.

Schenk, playing for the tenth straight week was desperately unlucky to end up at a tree stump after his tee shot on 18, forcing him to hack across the fairway left handed. His third shot didn’t cover the slope on the green and his putt from off the fringe to force a playoff rattled the flagstick, but it wasn’t enough.

A bogey on the par-5 14th from a disastrous lie in the green side bunker put paid to Fleetwood’s chances as he couldn’t recover with late birdies while it was another case of a cold putter down the stretch for Spieth who will wonder how he didn’t win.

It was the three-time major champion who hit all the shots down the stretch. First he made a remarkable bogey on 16 after carving his tee shot into the water before draining a 12-footer for a crucial five. He stepped up on 17 and hit a dart to six-feet only for his watery attempt to not even come close to falling.

A clumsy three-putt on 18 summed up a disappointing finish for Spieth as he shared third on eight-under alongside Fleetwood after a 70.

But there was no stopping 29-year-old Moore who was rewarded for holding his nerve late on as others faltered.

Moore had a harrowing health experience a few years back when he sustained a collapsed lung. He was on his way to the airport to fly to an event, and found himself at a traffic junction. He could turn left, toward the airport, and try to catch his flight. Or he could turn right, toward the hospital. He is thankful he made the decision to turn right. He had surgery, and the recovery just further delayed his path to fulfill a dream by getting out to the PGA TOUR. He knew he would get there eventually.

“I don’t think there was any doubt internally that I was going to get out here,” said Moore, whose final 6-footer for par at 18 left him 64-for-64 inside 7 feet for the week. “I think it was more of getting frustrated how long it was taking to get out here, because I knew deep down I could be out here and compete and show everybody what I could do in this game.

“I might have been under the radar to some people watching, but I felt like I was in the golf tournament from the time I teed off today and was just excited to control what I could control and get it done.”

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