A challenging course, wind angles and a “Bear” couldn’t stop a young golfer from winning his first professional tournament.

Coincidentally, Keith Mitchell used experience in the final round of The Honda Classic to seal his first ever PGA Tour victory. The 27-year-old’s 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole gave him a final round 67 to finish at -9, surpassing Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler by one stroke.

“I’ve been close and I let my emotions take over,” Mitchell told NBC Sports’ Steve Sands. “And today (Sunday), I bogeyed the first two holes and I was like ‘I’m not going to let this happen again. I’m going to stick it out. I’m going to use what I’ve learned over the past couple years.’ And I was able to do it and I just played great coming down the stretch.”

Mitchell’s mental fortitude allowed him to shoot four-under-par in the last seven holes at the daunting PGA National course, which includes the menacing three hole “Bear Trap.” The former University of Georgia collegiate birdied the 15th hole and made par on the 16th and 17th holes to work through the pivotal stretch.

Mitchell shot 271 for the tournament (68, 66, 70, 67). The win in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida earns him over $1.2 million, 500 FedExCup points and a spot to play at Augusta in the 2019 Masters.

Before Mitchell’s clutch putt, it appeared likely that The Honda Classic would be decided by a three-way playoff between Mitchell, Koepka and Fowler. Nine of the previous 46 Classic winners were decided by a playoff, but it was not meant to be in 2019. Koepka shot a fourth round 66 and Fowler finished at 67 to split second place. Both golfers walked away with 245 FedExCup points.

Much of the talk in the middle of the mid-80 degree day in South Florida was if Ryan Palmer’s -7 overall score would hold up to win the tournament. Palmer tied a course record by shooting 29 after the front nine on Sunday. The 42-year-old finished the day at 63, tied for fourth place.

“I actually got the holes that were gettable, which is what you need to do, which allowed me to shoot 29 on the front,” said Palmer. “It’s so hard to back up a low round like that on the front to the back. And you can kind of feel a little tension creeping in, but I was able to have some great par saves. And to finish the way I did, very memorable.”

Wyndham Clark, the leader after round 3, bogeyed four times between holes 7-12 en route to a final round 72. Clark finished tied for 7th place at -5 for the tournament. He was paired with 56-year-old veteran Vijay Singh, who’s last PGA Tour victory came in 2008. His chances of becoming the oldest winner ever on the Tour were thwarted as he followed up his third round 65 with a final round 70, finishing him in 6th place.

Sunjae Im, with whom Mitchell shared The Honda Classic lead with at -6 after 36 holes, shot a 77 in the third round and a 71 in the fourth to finish tied for 51st at +2. Jhonattan Vegas, who led after Thursday’s first round, finished tied for 16th place at -2.


Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia were among those tied for 9th place at -4.

Justin Thomas, last year’s winner at PGA National, finished tied for 30th place at even par.

Tiger Woods, who returned to the Honda last year after a three-year hiatus, did not participate.

The PGA Tour heads to Orlando this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Tickets can be purchased here.