Keith Mitchell caps incredible Valspar Championship round with tantalizing hole-out

Take a bow, Keith Mitchell.

The former Georgia Bulldog played the final three holes at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook in 4-under, which catapulted him to the top of the leaderboard at 10-under overall.

Known as “The Snake Pit,” this closing three-hole stretch routinely stumps players due to its difficulty. Year in and year out, these holes rank among the toughest on the PGA Tour, but Mitchell made it look easy during the third round of the Valspar Championship.

He birdied the difficult par-4 16th and the par-3 17th, but what he did on 18 was nothing short of amazing.

Mitchell holed his approach from 151 yards out, thus becoming the first player in tournament history to play the Snake Pit in seven strokes.

“When I looked up, something kind of flew in my eye, so I looked away and never saw it come down and land, but when I hit it, I was pleased with the contact,” Mitchell said of his second on 18.

“It’s an elevated green, so I wasn’t going to be able to see it go in the hole anyway, but I didn’t even see it come down next to the flag.”

He did not need to see anything to know something extraordinary had just happened. After it one-hopped into the hole, the gallery elicited a massive roar for Mitchell, which was heard all over Innisbrook.

That exquisite shot has given Mitchell a two-shot lead through 54 holes at the Valspar Championship.

“Obviously, some luck involved in that, but the good thing is I executed all the shots I wanted to. That’s really all I could do. I could have hit those same shots, made three pars, and been just as happy,” Mitchell said of his play at The Snake Pit.

Keith Mitchell, PGA Tour, Valspar Championship

Keith Mitchell celebrates his second shot on the 18th hole during the third round of the 2024 Valspar Championship.
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

“I hit them all where I wanted to. [My caddy] and I had some good numbers, and we executed them well. Out here, with the wind, small greens, and small fairways, you can hit good shots and not get rewarded. But all in all, it’s really all about what we can control tomorrow.”

It all started with a brilliant approach on the 16th, the most challenging hole on the course. Mithcell then wheeled in a double-breaker for birdie to get to 7-under.

“I hit a nice 9-iron in there, actually a little past the flag,” Mitchell said of the 16th.

“It was the first really good putt I’ve made all day of really substantial length. I finally read one right and hit it and knew when it was about three feet out, it was in the hole. So I gave myself a little fist pump there to try to get some energy and momentum going.”

“We were really in between clubs on 17. Between 6 and 7,” Mitchell said.

“I ended up hitting 6 to take as much wind out of the shot as possible. So, I had to take almost 20 yards off that club to get it to where it ended up. That was one of the best shots I’ve hit all day. It was just kind of a tap-in putt.”

Keith Mitchell, PGA Tour, Valspar Championship

Keith Mitchell hits his second shot on 18.
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Then, on 18, Mitchell dunked a 7-iron to cap an incredible 6-under 29 on the back-nine.

Mitchell signed for a 5-under 66, which featured three bogies on the opening nine. But he had a storybook finish, a script Hollywood could not even produce.

Now, Mitchell can win on the PGA Tour for the first time since 2019, when he prevailed at the Honda Classic for his maiden victory.

“I tell myself that a lot, and sometimes when you tell yourself that too much and you don’t win, it actually can be a negative. It’s really hard to win out here,” Mitchell said.

“I think I got my win early and felt like I could win more. Unfortunately, that’s a really high expectation out here. Hopefully, I can continue to work on the right things, maybe even add some more stuff to my practice so that I can put myself in contention more often. The more you’re in contention, the better chance you have to win.”

Mitchell has two top-10 finishes this season, with his most recent top-10 being a tie for 9th at the Cognizant Classic. Since his win in 2019, ‘Cashmere Keith’ has 19 top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour. He has been in contention often, which has only increased his chances of winning.

But Mitchell has not had an opportunity like this in a while, all thanks to conquering The Snake Pit and giving it a taste of its own medicine.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top