Tampa Bay Sports Day

GOLF: FSU’s Jonas Blixt Notches Third PGA Tour Victory


PGA Tour golfer and Florida State Seminole Jonas Blixt (2004-08) recorded his third professional victory on Monday, teaming with Cameron Smith to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at the TPC Louisiana.

In what was the first team event on the PGA Tour since the Walt Disney World National Team Championship in 1981, Blixt and Smith won on the fourth playoff hole. The duo tied with Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown to finish at 27-under (67-62-68-64) through 72 holes before a final birdie on their 76th hole played set up the win.

Blixt has also earned PGA Tour wins in 2012 (Frys.com Open) and 2013 (Greenbrier Classic). He also owns Top 5 finishes at the Masters (tied for second in 2014) and the PGA Championship (fourth in 2013).

A Florida State men’s golfer has now won at least one PGA Tour event in each of the last three years. Last year, Daniel Berger earned a victory at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and Brooks Koepka won the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Koepka was also a big factor in last year’s Ryder-Cup winning United States team.

Blixt’s win in New Orleans is the 62nd professional victory by a Florida State golfer. He is one of six Seminoles to have at least three PGA Tour victories, joining Hubert Green (19 wins), Paul Azinger (12), Jeff Sluman (3), Nolan Henke (3) and Kenny Knox (3).

The Swedish golfer finished his FSU career with four wins and ended his senior year as the 17th-ranked golfer nationally. His four victories tie Christian Raynor and Drew Kittleson for the most in program history, while he holds the FSU career record with 138 rounds played. Impressively, nearly 93 percent (92.6) of his scores counted toward the team total.

Smith hit his approach shot from 57 yards to within 2 1/2 feet and sank the birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole to turn back Kisner and Brown on Monday morning at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, La.

“Inside a 100 (yards), I thought that it was my strong point in my game, and kind of because it was a strong point in my game, I just kind of let it go a little bit,” said Smith, whose first PGA Tour victory earned him a spot in the Players Championship next week. “Really started working hard on that again this year, and yeah, to hit a shot like that under the pump, especially when you know you’ve got it, was pretty cool.

“To have a putt to win on the PGA Tour, when you’ve been working toward it your whole life, is a completely different feeling. It felt like the longest 2 1/2-foot putt I’ve ever hit.”

Kisner forced the playoff with a miracle hole-out, chipping in from 95 feet for an eagle on the last hole of the final round in near-darkness on Sunday evening.

The eagle capped a 12-under-par 60 in the best-ball format that pulled him and Brown even with Blixt and Smith, who closed with a 64 as each team wound up at 27-under 261.

Sunday’s play in the PGA Tour’s first stroke-play team event since 1981 was interrupted by thunderstorms for more than six hours.

Blixt and Smith had the best chances in the playoff, missing four putts inside 11 feet before Smith finally connected with the winner.

“I felt like we’re kind of similar,” said Blixt, who claimed his third victory on the PGA Tour. “We joke around at times but we also get extremely serious and into it at times, too.

“I felt like we gave each other a lot of space to play our own game and I felt like our games fit each other very well on the golf course, especially when you have alternate shots. I mean, I felt like I could hit it anywhere and he would get it up-and-down, and I hope he felt the same way.”

Brown and Kisner both missed putts of about 15 feet on the final extra hole before Smith put his away.

“We had a great time, man, that was a great format,” said Kisner, who missed an eight-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole. “Fun to play with him in the heat. Having a chance to win is always fun. Didn’t get it done, but we’ll be back next year.