(Reuters) - Peter Malnati churned through the Mississippi mud to clinch a one-stroke victory at the $4.1 million Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson on Monday.
In his 22nd start on the PGA Tour, Malnati sank a three-foot par putt at the last to card 67 and finish at 18-under 270, edging fellow Americans David Toms (69) and William McGirt (68) at the soggy Country Club of Jackson.
The PGA Tour sophomore, 28, became the fifth winner in as many tournaments in the new 2015-16 PGA Tour season, joining Emiliano Grillo (Frys.com Open), Smylie Kaufman (Las Vegas), Justin Thomas (CIMB Classic) and Russell Knox (WGC-HSBC Champions).
Knox, at 30, is the oldest of the quintet.
Malnati said he had not been mentally ready for his first season on tour in 2014-15, but returned this time better prepared.
“Two years ago when I was on this tour, it was so hard for me to be in the moment,” he told Golf Channel.
“I knew the work I’ve put in would prepare me for this moment when it came. This is pretty cool right now.”
Torrential rain earlier in the week sent the event to a Monday finish on the saturated course, where preferred lies were allowed.
A dozen or so players looked capable of winning at one stage or another during the final round, but none rued what might have been more than joint runner-up McGirt, who agonizingly missed a 30-foot birdie putt at the last that would have forced a playoff.
His ball looked headed for the bottom of the cup, only to break to the right at the very end and stop just short of the hole.
“It just kind of ran out of steam and fell off the hole instead of falling in for me,” said McGirt, who was also seeking his first win. “It somehow missed.”
McGirt, whose wife is expecting on Friday, closely watched the leaderboards after learning from his mistake at the 2012 Canadian Open, where he was unaware of his position down the stretch and bogeyed the final hole to finish one shot back.
A few weeks later, he received some blunt advice from Tiger Woods.
“We had a nice little conversation and he (Woods) goes, ‘you’re an idiot’. I took that and kind of learned from it,” McGirt said.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina. Editing by Steve Keating.