WASHINGTON (AFP) — American Harold Varner III beat South African Branden Grace by a shot to win the LIV Golf Invitational -— DC tournament and claim the $4-million prize on Sunday.
Varner, who ended 12-under for the three-round week, made birdie on his final hole, the par-5 18th, at the Trump National course in Sterling, Virginia, to avoid a playoff after Grace had also birdied his final hole, the par-4 second.
The win was the first, as a professional, on American soil for the 32-year-old Varner with his previous victories coming at the Australian PGA in 2016 and the Asian Tour’s PIF Saudi International last February.
Varner shot a four-under 68 in his final round after setting the early pace with his superb eight-under 64 on Friday.
Grace had put himself in contention with a fine, bogey-free round of 66, including two birdies on the final three holes.
But Varner kept his cool and credited his attitude for a composed final-round performance.
“If you start protecting (the lead) you don’t win. I’ve been in that position. I’ve had enough losses to grow from and I think I had people around me to ground me. I don’t think I need to do it,” he said.
Knowing he needed to make birdie on the final green ensured he remained focused, Varner said.
If you start protecting (the lead) you don’t win. I’ve been in that position.
“I knew exactly what I had to do, when I had to do, it how I have to do it. I love that,” he said.
“That’s why you play, that moment. You don’t get as many in golf, like those types of moments but that was mine.”
Chilean Mito Pereira had gone into the final day with a one-stroke lead but started with back-to-back bogeys and not even his eagle on the 13th could help as he ended with a 71 and two shots off the lead.
Brooks Koepka, who won the PGA Championship last week and became the first LIV golfer to win a major since the Saudi-backed tour was formed, finished 14th, seven shots behind Varner.