Posted on March 10 2019
Keith Mitchell doesn’t have a lot of winning experience to draw upon. His only victory since turning pro in 2014 was a mini-tour event in North Carolina. Although he was an All-American at the University of Georgia, he never won a collegiate event, struggling early on with the discipline needed to maximise his potential.
Oh, he’s come close to winning a couple of times. He lost a three-man playoff in Brazil on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica in 2015. He had a few looks on the Web.com Tour, including a tie for third in the News Sentinel Open in his native Tennessee. And in his rookie season on TOUR a year ago, he was solo second – albeit by four shots – in the Dominican Republic.
Mainly, he’s suffered heartbreak. In August of 2017, he had a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole in the final regular-season event of the Web.com Tour at Pumpkin Ridge outside Portland, Oregon. Making the putt would secure his PGA TOUR card.
He missed it.
“I think about it all the time,” Mitchell said about that putt. “I don’t have a number, but it’s in the thousands.”
He was definitely thinking about it Sunday morning while driving to PGA National to play the final round of The Honda Classic. Tied for second to start the day, Mitchell had a life-changing opportunity in his grasp. He just needed to achieve something he’s rarely done the last few years.
Some golfers might flinch at those negative feelings, of failing to get it done when the pressure and stakes were at their highest. Mitchell, though, used it as motivation, as determination. He’s felt what it’s like to come up short. Time for a different sensation.
“I didn’t want to have those feelings today,” Mitchell said. “I wanted to overcome those. I wanted to see what it was like on the other side.”
The other side was now 15-1/2 feet away on the 18th hole at PGA National late Sunday afternoon. A similar distance to Pumpkin Ridge, and no surprise that those memories were threatening to distract him from the task at hand. Hole the birdie putt, and he becomes a PGA TOUR winner. Miss it and he falls into a playoff with two of the TOUR’s biggest names, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler, each a local resident with a huge following.
But this was no Pumpkin Ridge. Keith Mitchell’s time had finally come – a one-stroke win, a two-year TOUR exemption and all the other accoutrements that come with being a TOUR winner.
What's in the bag?
As well as it being Mitchell’s first victory on the PGA Tour it was the first win for the new Mizuno ST190 driver, which he has set up at 9.5 degrees.
Driver: Mizuno ST190 (9.5°)
Fairway: Titleist 917F2 (16.5°), Titleist TS2 (21°)
Irons: Mizuno MP-18 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (50°, 54°) Custom Prototype Titleist Vokey Design (60°)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Copper
Ball: Titleist Pro V1