PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO | Brendon Todd had already written one of the year’s most improbable comeback stories. Now he has added an unexpected second chapter.
The 34-year-old journeyman made a short par putt on the 72nd hole Monday morning to win the Mayakoba Golf Classic, finishing one stroke ahead of Vaughn Taylor, Carlos Ortiz and Adam Long at 20-under par. The triumph gave Todd back-to-back PGA Tour victories after he captured the Bermuda Championship a little more than two weeks ago.
“It’s incredible. I’m just overcome with emotion right now,” Todd said. “The whole final round was much more nerve-racking for me than Bermuda. Those guys played great golf and stayed with me the whole time. I was able to just keep fighting back.”
Fighting is something the former University of Georgia player has become accustomed to the past few years. Todd entered 2019 having made the cut in just five of his past 41 starts as he battled full-swing yips and considered leaving professional golf for the business world. He says he likely would have done so if he hadn’t Monday qualified and then made the cut at the RSM Classic last November, a sequence that offered him a ray of hope that he could regain the form that helped him win the 2014 HP Byron Nelson Classic.
A year later, Todd has suddenly transformed himself with back-to-back victories. He opened the Mayakoba tournament with an 8-under 63 at El Camaleon Golf Club and never left the first page of the leaderboard. The tournament, which endured rain that washed out Thursday’s opening round, came down to a marathon Sunday and a dramatic Monday finish.
Todd held the lead for most of Sunday’s third and fourth rounds, stretching his margin to two strokes with only six holes to play. However, with daylight fading, Todd lost momentum by making par on El Camaleon’s easiest hole, the par-5 13th, and then flubbing a chip at the par-4 14th, leading to his first bogey in 30 holes.
At the same time, his pursuers took advantage. Taylor went birdie-par over those two holes to tie for lead and Harris English made two birdies to get within a stroke of his playing partners. Meanwhile, Mexico’s Ortiz birdied No. 15 and made clutch par saves on the next two holes to stay at 19 under, one stroke behind Todd and Taylor.
Ortiz, playing the par-4 18th hole by himself Monday morning because his partners had finished the hole in darkness Sunday night, came back and missed the fairway. He scrambled to make par, but it wasn’t enough for him to become the first Mexican to win on the PGA Tour since Victor Regalado at the 1978 Quad Cities Open.
“I was really trying to push to finish yesterday, just it was too hard to see,” Ortiz said. “I mean, today I thought I hit a great drive, barely caught the rough and it was almost impossible to get to the green. I’m still pretty pleased with the way the week went.”
As Ortiz finished, Todd converted a birdie putt on No. 15 to reach 21 under, a stroke ahead of Taylor. The last threesome struggled at the difficult par-4 16th – English made a double bogey to fall out of contention while Todd and Taylor both missed short par putts.
With Todd leading at 20 under, another challenger entered the mix late. Long saved par at No. 16 and then rolled home a 15-foot birdie putt at the 17th to get to 19 under, giving himself the same opportunity Ortiz had at the final hole. But Long also made par, putting himself in a tie with Ortiz.
After Todd and Taylor made pars at No. 17, the tournament came down to the last. Taylor found the fairway and then hit his approach shot to about 12 feet. Meanwhile, Todd missed the fairway left and pulled his second shot left of the green. His pressure-packed chip settled around 4 feet from the hole, meaning Taylor had an opportunity to force a playoff or even win the tournament in the event Todd missed his short par putt.
Taylor hit a beautiful putt that stopped one revolution short of the hole. He buried his hands in his face and subsequently watched as Todd drained his par putt to clinch victory.
“Warming up this morning, the greens were a little slow, but I don’t know,” Taylor said. “I was a little nervous. I usually come up short when I’m nervous.”
With the victory, Todd was projected to move to No. 83 in the world. Five months ago, he was No. 1,011 after missing the cut at the U.S. Open.
RESULTS | MONEY LIST