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Hudson Swafford back in winner’s circle after two years of ‘struggle’

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Hudson Swafford back in winner’s circle after two years of ‘struggle’

    Hudson Swafford wins by 1-stroke at Corales Puntacana

    For most of Sunday it looked like Hudson Swafford was poised for a runaway victory at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.

    Instead he had to make a nervy 8-foot par saver to notch his second career PGA TOUR victory after he battled back from a back-nine double bogey.

    “My caddie, Kyle, and I, we were talking. I thought the putt might go a little right, he said it might go a little left. He just said, "Man, just hit a solid putt. You've hit a lot of them, just hit one more solid putt,’” said Swafford of his par save on 18. “I hit a great one.”

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    Swafford, at one point, had a four-shot lead. He was 5-under through nine holes and looked to be cruising. But a six on the par-4 13th brought Swafford back to the field. He made another bogey on the par-4 15th.

    Swafford, who won The American Express in 2017 for his maiden TOUR victory, stuffed a 6-iron to kick-in distance on the par-3 17th – a shot he said was similar to what he did three years ago on the 17th hole in Palm Desert.

    “I was just envisioning my shot at 17 on PGA West when I stepped up on the 17th green,” Swafford said. “(My caddie) said, ‘You know, this is just a three-quarter 6-iron, you've been hitting your 6-iron great all day, all week, just hit one more. It's a 190, just do it,’ and I hit a beauty, then solid putt and went right in.”

    After he left his birdie putt short on the 72nd hole he seemed to take a little extra time over his par attempt.

    Swafford went all week without three-putting and he wasn’t going to notch his first three-putt of the week on the 72nd hole.

    “I don't even know which side of the hole it went in on, I just know it was going in,” said Swafford.

    He finished at 18-under par, the third straight winner at Corales Puntacana to finish with that score. Tyler McCumber finished runner-up at 17-under while Mackenzie Hughes, who finished T2 at Corales Puntacana last season, finished third.

    Swafford’s back-nine battle wasn’t the only thing he had battled to get back to the PGA TOUR winner circle, as he had just two starts left on his Major Medical this week.

    He missed time in 2018-19 after he had surgery in July of 2019 to remove a bone in his right foot. He said he realized something was amiss when halfway through a tournament he’d feel miserable while walking.

    “And that’s what I do for a living is walk,” Swafford said. “Ended up finding out I had a broken bone in the bottom of my foot that it had to be removed. They took it out. The bone was dead. I felt like I had just gotten confidence back and then that setback was there.

    “It's been a struggle.”

    Still, Swafford credits his wife Katherine for his ability to return to the PGA TOUR winner’s circle. He and Katherine are now parents for the first time (James Hudson Swafford Jr. was born in December 2018).

    “Being a father is the best thing in the world to me. Wouldn't want it any other way. My wife and I, we are blessed,” said Swafford. “(My wife and I) come down here to the Dominican and actually kind of take a vacation with a little golf involved. It's been an excellent week. We can't wait to see him next week.”

    And when they see him, Swafford can tell his son he is a PGA TOUR winner once again.

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