Russell Henley ended a five-year PGA Tour victory drought on Sunday, firing a one-under-par 70 to capture the Mayakoba Championship by four strokes.
The 33-year-old American, who shared the lead for three rounds at last year’s US Open before fading, matched the tournament record by finishing 72 holes on 23 under 261 at El Camaleon in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
“To come down 18 with a four-shot lead, it was just really cool,” Henley said after his fourth career PGA Tour title. “Very nervous this weekend. I slept on the lead both nights.”
American Brian Harman fired a 66 to grab second on 19 under.
Second-ranked Masters champion Scottie Scheffler settled for a share of third on 18 under despite a closing 62, just missing the solo second-place minimum he needed to recapture world No 1.
“I was just trying to show up and have a good round,” Scheffler said. “Rankings are great. It was definitely fun being No 1 in the world. It’s definitely something I hope to get back to, but it’s not something that’s going to occupy a lot of my thoughts.”
Ireland’s Seamus Power and Americans Will Gordon, Joel Dahmen and Troy Merrit were also on 18 under.
South Africa’s Dean Burmester finished on 12 under (T32), with countrymen Dylan Frittelli on six under (T59) and MJ Daffue on two under (T66). Erik van Rooyen and Garrick Higgo missed the weekend cut.
Henley had not won a PGA Tour title since the 2017 Houston Open. His other PGA Tour triumphs came at the 2013 Sony Open in Hawaii and the 2014 Honda Classic.
Henley began the day with a six-stroke lead, but he had not converted his past five 54-hole leads into triumph.
“Just tried to learn from my past and my screw-ups,” Henley said. “All those events I didn’t close on, they hurt. And you don’t know if you will ever get to win another one. It’s so hard out here.”
While he opened with four pars and stumbled with a bogey at the par-five 5th, Henley then birdied the 6th, 7th and 8th holes to serve notice he would not squander this advantage.
Henley birdied nine of the last 10 holes, making a final bogey at 16 when he found a bunker with his approach.
“All the times I didn’t get it done, I learned from it,” Henley said. “And here we are.”
Harman, who also hadn’t won a PGA Tour title in five years, fired a bogey-free round to grab second but knew catching his pal Henley was unlikely.
“He buzz-sawed everybody,” Harman said. “Russell’s a fantastic golfer. He’s a dear friend, I’m really happy for him. Jealous of his putter. He putts it so great and he’s really rounded his ball-striking into form.”
Scheffler, who won four times in two months this year capped by his first Major crown at Augusta National, lost the world No 1 spot to Rory McIlroy when the Northern Ireland star defended his CJ Cup title last month.
Needing no worse than solo second to overtake McIlroy, Scheffler made seven birdies and an eagle in a bogey-free round and nearly pulled off the feat.
Scheffler could leapfrog McIlroy for No 1 next week when he plays the Houston Open.
American Robert Streb aced the par-three 8th hole on Sunday, making the first PGA hole-in-one of his career.
© Agence France-Presse