Keith Mitchell started the final round bogey-bogey, but gathered himself to play the remaining 16 holes in five under par, including a tournament-winning 16-footer at the last, to win his first PGA Tour title at the Honda Classic by one shot over Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler.
Although it was Mitchell’s birdie on 18 that proved to be the winner, it was a stretch of three birdies in four holes on No. 12, 13 and 15 that was the difference. Mitchell, who led the field in strokes gained/tee-to-green (picking up nearly 12 strokes on the field), knocked approach shots to 11 and 17 feet on the par-4 12th and 13th, before hitting a gutsy 9-iron on the par-3 15th that he took out over the water before drawing it back to safety.
Mitchell uses Mizuno’s muscleback blade MP-18 irons as well as the company’s new ST190 driver. While the blades (which have Golf Pride's Green Victory cord grips) don’t feature the tech of some other irons, the driver utilizes a high-strength beta titanium alloy in a variable-thickness face with a carbon-fiber crown to help lower the center of gravity. The sole of the driver also features “waves” to enhance forgiveness and increase the sweet spot. The driver also boasts a steel weight deep in the sole to improve launch and stability on mis-hits. Mitchell ranked eighth for the week in driving distance and ninth in strokes gained/off-the-tee. When Mitchell made the switch last fall to the driver, it didn't change his carry distance, but dropped his spin rate by 350 rpms which increased his total distance by seven yards.
Although Mitchell’s putter wasn’t on fire, he putted well over the final 54 holes, including the putt on the final hole. Mitchell had a new putter this week, a TaylorMade Spider X, that he tested on the practice green at PGA National earlier in the week. According to TaylorMade reps, Mitchell liked the sightline, which he felt helped him improve alignment.
Indeed, he looked pretty well lined up on the 72nd hole. "I was trying to focus on what was going on," Mitchell told NBC afterwards. "My mind was starting to wander at the end. … I tried to focus on what the putt was doing, the read and the speed and I was able to do it and hit a great putt."
What Keith Mitchell had in the bag at the Honda Classic
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Driver: Mizuno ST190 (Project X HZRDUS T1100X), 9.5 degrees
4-wood: Titleist 917F2, 16.5 degrees
7-wood: Titleist TS2, 21 degrees
Irons (4-PW): Mizuno MP-18
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (50, 54 degrees); Titleist Vokey prototype (59 degrees)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour X