Fresh off one of the best rounds of his career, Brendon Todd entered Sunday atop the leaderboard at the RSM Classic with 18 holes to play.
The former University of Georgia golfer was nearly flawless in Round 3, tying the 62 he fired off three weeks ago to win the Bermuda Championship as the lowest in 179 starts on the PGA Tour, to jump two strokes ahead of Webb Simpson and Sebastian Munoz headed into Day 4.
But Todd ran out of gas in the final round, shooting a 2 over 72 to finish three strokes behind the 19 under the led to a playoff between Webb Simpson and eventual champion Tyler Duncan.
The victory at the Port Royal Golf Course was Todd’s first on the tour since 2014, and just his second total. Just a year ago, coming off a case of full-blown swing yips, Todd had to win the Monday qualifier at the Brunswick Country Club just make the field at the RSM Classic.
But with the chance to become the first golfer to win three straight PGA Tour tournaments since Tiger Woods in 2006, he couldn’t summon the same magic to prevail at the Sea Island Golf Club.
“It was one of those days,” Todd said. “But the greens were fast again, and the pins were tucked a little more, it the wind was blowing harder.
“I think it was really just the wind. Nobody in our group made a putt through 14 holes. Like, not one I can think of. It was just a tough day on the greens for everybody.”
As a sign of things to come that day, Todd sank birdie putts from 20 feet and 12 feet on Nos. 1 and 2 of Seaside to open Round 3. He went on to birdie four more holes on the frontside and finished with eight on the round, hitting every fairway and missing just one green — his 18-under 194 tying the 54-hole tournament record.
Playing the same course Sunday, Todd wouldn’t birdie until No. 15; following his bogey-free round with two on the final day, as well as a costly double-bogey on No. 5 that dropped him into a dogfight with the rest of the field.
After driving 253 yards to the middle of the fairway off the tee, Todd got into trouble with his second swing.
“I don’t really know, I thought it was going to be a pretty good swing,” Todd said. “I was a little aggressive with my line. I was going pretty much right at it because I thought the wind was in off the right, and I feel like the wind switched off the left, so the second it going right, it moved hard right.
“Probably just a situation where Webb tied me up and I was trying to play aggressive, and I just got caught on a wind switch.”
The shot flew into the marsh surrounding the hole, costing Todd a stroke and his chip shot rolled long, leading to a 21-foot, 7-inch putt that took two shots to drop.
From that point on, Todd felt like he was playing catchup.
“I didn’t feel I was in the zone,” Todd said. “I was just in this adrenaline-filled zone the last three weeks, and I couldn’t get there today.
“It just didn’t start out very good. Once double bogey happens, then you’re just in this weird, fight or flight mentality, so it kind of took all my positive energy away. That was an unfortunate situation. I’ll learn from it and just try to keep getting better.”
Todd had two birdie putts of 26-feet or longer and two putts of 9-feet or shorter over the final four holes on the front nine, and he finished at par each time. He had a streak of six straight holes of par before bogeys on Nos. 12 and 14 dropped hm to 4 over for the round and almost completely out of contention for the championship.
It wasn’t all bad though; far from it.
With birdies on Nos. 15 and 16, Todd finished fourth behind Duncan, Simpson and Munoz and walked away from the tournament $323,400 richer. He also remains the leader in the FedExCup rankings heading into the tour’s five-week break.
Considering, a year ago, Todd had set up a meeting with his financial adviser to discuss the possibility of opening a pizza franchise after missing 37 of 41 cuts on the PGA Tour, he couldn’t be happier.
“Last year, making the cut here was my first made cut in a long time, so I still didn’t have a ton of confidence coming out of this event, even though I knew it did give me sort of new life getting more past champion starts on the PGA Tour.
“But this year, now I’m sort of flying high. My game’s really there. I’m confident and kind of know how to navigate the golf courses, and my swing, and my putting. I’m looking forward to picking my schedule next year and going every week to try to get under par and get into contention.”
Todd might not have added his name to the list of winners in the RSM Classic’s 10 years of champions, but Sea Island Golf Club will always have special meaning to him.
“This is a special week,” Todd said. Last year was a huge step in the right direction for me, and so it was a positive week overall.
“I mean, I finished fourth place a year after cutting my teeth again on the PGA Tour, so I’m excited.”