GREENSBORO — Kevin Kisner finally broke his playoff drought to win the Wyndham Championship. He hopes the victory will help him achieve another milestone — representing the United States in the Ryder Cup.
Kisner stuck his approach to 3 feet on the second extra hole and made the putt to win a record-tying six-man playoff on Sunday.
The 37-year-old Kisner, an excellent putter who now has four PGA Tour wins, has never qualified or been selected to represent the U.S. in the biennial matches against Europe. American captain Steve Stricker will make six picks after the Tour Championship, and Kisner believes he’s at least put himself in the mix.
“Who knows, man?” Kisner said. “I’ve never been picked before, so I’m not going to go out there and jump on a limb and say that I’m going to get picked this year.
“I love Stricker, he’s a great friend and great guy. He’ll do what’s best for the team and the country.”
And that could mean Kisner, who’s 23rd in the U.S. Ryder Cup points standings, yet has shaken off an uninspired year with improved play at the right time.
Kisner has shot in the 60s in 12 of his last 20 rounds. His 66 on Sunday at Sedgefield included birdies on the 16th and 17th holes to reach 15 under and the playoff.
In the playoff, he bested Adam Scott, Roger Sloan, Kevin Na, Si Woo Kim and Branden Grace after all had made pars on the first additional hole.
“To be standing here is pretty sweet,” said Kisner, who had been 0-5 in playoffs.
With Scott looking at a 4-footer for birdie on the first extra hole, Kisner thought he would have to hole a pitch from short of the 18th green just to stay in the playoff, and he nearly did it. Kisner grimaced as his ball settled just right of the cup.
But Scott’s short putt missed badly and all six players went back to the 18th tee. This time, only Kisner gave himself a close look at birdie on the 505-yard closing hole.
Kim shot 64 in the final round. Scott had a 65 while Grace, Na and Sloan each closed with 66.
It was the third six-man playoff on the PGA Tour and the first since Robert Allenby won at Riviera in 2001.
It didn’t look like a playoff would be necessary after Russell Henley, who led after the first three rounds, recovered from a slow start to reach 17-under after a birdie on the 10th hole. But Henley bogeyed three of the next four and came to the 72nd hole needing par to stay at 15 under.
But Henley missed a 6-footer to go 0-for-3 this season with the 54-hole lead. He was in front after three rounds at Las Vegas last October and at the U.S. Open in June.
“I knew I had to shoot under par today, so just disappointed,” Henley after his 1-over 71. “It stings pretty bad.”
There was drama through the final round of the tour’s last regular-season event as players outside the postseason sought to get in.
It looked like former FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose, who started the week 138th, had done enough to make the 125-man field for The Northern Trust. But the Englishman missed a 5-footer for par on the final hole that dropped him to 126th — first outside the playoff field.
“Obviously it was in my hands up 18,” Rose said. “I didn’t do a very good job of that.”
Rose’s loss was Chesson Hadley’s gain. The veteran who finished second at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree in June made a hole-in one on the par-3 16th — complete with an awkward, leg-kicking celebration — and shot 62.
That was enough to sneak him into next week’s field at No. 125. And unlike Rose, Hadley needed to make the playoffs to secure full playing privileges for next season.
Sloan and Scott Piercy were two others who played their way into the playoffs. Canada’s Sloan moved from 131st to 92nd while Piercy came in at No. 126 and improved 10 spots.
Three players who missed the cut this week fell from the top 125 after starting the week playoff-bound. Ryan Armour went from 122nd to 127th, Bo Hoag from 125th to 129th and Patrick Rodgers from 123rd to 128th.
Threatening weather for later Sunday led tour officials to move up tee times. They didn’t count on a mash-up at the top leading to the 12th playoff on the PGA Tour this season.
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