Keith Mitchell used a newspaper headline that scorned his chances of winning The Honda Classic as a motivating tool for his maiden PGA Tour win.
That and the fact he didn’t want to drop into a playoff with Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler was enough to convince him mentally he needed to make his 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole at PGA National to close out the win.
Mitchell had some previous with the winning scenario on Sunday. In August 2017 he was faced with 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 that would have secured his PGA Tour card, but he missed. After his Honda win he revealed that he ‘thinks about it all the time’, including when his moment of truth arrived again on the 18th green.
“I didn’t want to have those feelings [again],” Mitchell said. “I wanted to overcome those. I wanted to see what it was like on the other side.”
“If I make par [on the last], I go [into] a playoff with two of the best players in the world and potentially Hall-of-Famers of all time.
“That’s a big thought for a guy that’s on his second year on Tour, that’s never won. So I was able to execute and that’s something I haven’t been able to do in the past.”
After Mitchell had finished 36 holes as the co-leader with Sungjae Im a headline in the local newspaper called them “no-names”, suggesting neither player was likely to be in mix late on Sunday afternoon.
Mitchell was sent the headline by a friend and revealed that he looked at it standing on the first tee before rounds three and four, to give him motivation.
“I don’t expect to have any great stuff to be written about me because I’ve only been out here for a year,” Mitchell said.
“So I’m not saying that in a negative light. I just used that as a little kind of emotion that everyone gets their start somewhere, everyone gets their first win somewhere, and I wanted this to be mine.”