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Sprinkler head relief helps Peter Malnati to Valspar Championship title

2 Min Read



    Written by Staff

    Peter Malnati knew it was a fortunate break. He made the most of it.

    Not long before winning the Valspar Championship at 12-under, two strokes clear of Cameron Young, Malnati looked to face a gnarly pitch on the par-4 16th at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course after tugging his approach left of the green. Malnati and Young were tied at the time; with Young facing a mid-range birdie look at 17, Young looked to have the advantage.

    Malnati, though, drew good fortune in that a sprinkler head impeded his natural stance to play the shot. The nearest point of relief (within one club length, no closer to the hole) was in the fringe; Malnati called over Steve Rintoul, PGA TOUR Vice President, Rules and Officiating, who confirmed the free drop. (A sprinkler head is considered an immovable obstruction under Rule 16.1.)

    The golf gods were in Malnati’s favor here, a reality that he didn’t dance around.

    “I feel this is a great break, and I want you to be here … this is the right way to do it, isn’t it?” Malnati asked Rintoul in real time.

    “That’s your nearest point,” Rintoul confirmed.

    Suddenly a dicey chip became a fairly straightforward 45-foot putt from the fringe. Malnati lagged to 4 feet and saved par. He followed with a birdie on the 17th and a par on No. 18, good for a two-stroke win over Young, who finished par-bogey.

    Peter Malnati makes clutch birdie on No. 17 at Valspar

    “You’ve got to take advantage of situations like this if you’re going to win for the first time in some nine years,” NBC broadcaster Dan Hicks remarked.

    “This is beyond a good break,” analyst Notah Begay agreed. “Even if he had to drop in the first cut; now he’s on the fringe and can put the putter down and take advantage.”

    Malnati did just that, earning his first win in eight-plus years, a trip to his first Masters, a spot in this year’s remaining Signature Events and full TOUR status through 2026.

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