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Peter Malnati emotional after first PGA Tour win in more than 8 years

Peter Malnati was far from the favorite to win this week’s Valspar Championship.

The 36-year-old journeyman PGA Tour pro, ranked 184th in the world, has been in the headlines over the past few months, but not because of his play.

Malnati has had a whirlwind past few weeks as a PGA Tour Policy Board member. He got a somewhat controversial sponsor’s invite into the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his second for a Signature Event. Then he faced dozens of questions last week at the Players Championship on the future of the Tour ahead of a meeting with the Saudi Arabain Public Investment Fund on Monday in the Bahamas.

But on Sunday at Innisbrook, Malnati was let all of that go. He broke down on the 18th green.

Starting the day two off the lead in a tie for second, Malnati shot a final-round 67 to get to 12 under and win the Valspar Championship by two shots for his second career PGA Tour title.

The 10th-year pro’s second title comes more than eight years after his first, which came at the 2015 Sanderson Championship. He was overcome by emotions when he reflected on the time between wins with Golf Channel’s Kira Dixon after his final putt dropped.

“You wonder if you are ever going to do it again,” Malnati said, holding back tears and holding his son, Hatcher. “Because it’s hard. And in the nine years since my last year, it’s gotten harder too.”

He had to stop and collect himself several times.

“To have this moment, it just feels so amazing,” Malnati continued. “Obviously, my family believes in me. I’ve got the best caddie. He’s been loyal to me for a long time. Through a lot of downtimes too.

“I’m just so thankful for my wife. She makes this all possible because life is hard. It’s obviously glamorous at times like this and since this is my dream job and it’s absolutely amazing. But life is really hard too when you’re trying to live this lifestyle and have two kids and be everything you want to be. It’s really hard. My wife has been an absolute rock through all of it…

“This just feels so good. It feels so good.”

Malnati was part of a packed leaderboard throughout the final day at Innisbrook but seemed to be an afterthought when he cold topped his second shot at the par-5 fifth.


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But the veteran rebounded by making par at No. 5, birdieing the next hole and then making three in a row to open the back nine and surge into a share of the lead with Cameron Young at 11 under.

He benefited from a fantastic break on the 16th green, taking relief from a sprinkler head to drop what would have been a ball buried in the deep rough to the fringe and two-putt for par on the Copperhead course’s most difficult hole.

Then, after Young hooked his tee shot into the trees on 18 ahead, Malnati rifled a long iron at the pin on 17 and converted the six-foot birdie putt to take the outright lead.

Young did well to hook his approach over and around the trees, but left his first putt short. When he missed the par putt, it cleared the stage for Malnati to make par from the fairway bunker for the win.

The victory gets Malnati, who has played in only three career major championships, into next month’s Masters for the first time in his career.

Young, meanwhile, earns his seventh runner-up finish in his three-year career, the most of any player without a win in the last 40 years on the PGA Tour, according to stat guru Justin Ray.

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