Robby Shelton defeats late-charging Ben Griffin in playoff, wins BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD SYNNEX
June 12, 2022
By Zach Dirlam , PGATOUR.COM
- June 12, 2022
Robby Shelton’s Round 4 highlights from BMW Charity Pro-Am
GREER, South Carolina – Facing firm and fast conditions late Sunday afternoon, Robby Shelton figured if he broke par it would be enough to win the BMW Charity Pro-Am Presented by TD SYNNEX. As it turned out, Shelton was right.
Well, sort of.
A sub-par round would have won the tournament in regulation, but Shelton carded an even-par 71 and parred back-to-back playoff holes for his third career Korn Ferry Tour victory.
Shelton carried a five-stroke lead into the final round and had not made a bogey through 54 holes, but his playing partner, Ben Griffin, fired a 5-under 66 and rendered it meaningless, as the two stood tied at 22-under par following regulation. Shelton and Griffin both parred the first playoff hole, the par-4 18th. The two returned to No. 18 tee for the second playoff hole, and only Shelton left with a par the second time around, as Griffin missed a 9-footer which would have extended the playoff.
“It's been three long years I've been fighting and fighting and trying to get a win, trying to just play some good golf,” Shelton said. “I've been trending and trending and trending, and finally it felt really good this week. It felt great and I ran with it. Made it a little tough on myself this last day, but I tend to do that.”
Shelton’s subtle poke at himself hearkened back to his first Korn Ferry Tour win, which came at the 2019 Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation. Like this week, Shelton carried a sizeable lead (three strokes) into the final round. The native Alabaman bogeyed his first four holes, rebounded and carded a 1-under par 71, but found himself in a playoff with future World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler. Shelton made a 9-footer for birdie and the win, then won again two weeks later at the Visit Knoxville Open.
This time around, Shelton gave nothing away early in the round; he was just stuck in neutral. Shelton made one birdie and one bogey in the first 11 holes, then wiped out a birdie at the par-4 12th with a bogey at the par-4 13th.
Shelton still kept Griffin at arm’s length, as he birdied the par-5 15th and held a three-stroke advantage. Back-to-back birdies by Griffin at the par-5 16th and par-3 17th gave him a puncher’s chance (pun intended, given the fact Canelo Alvarez played this week’s celebrity pro-am) on the 72nd hole.
An errant drive left Shelton well out of position in the left rough. An iron into the greenside bunker left Shelton with a difficult up and down. Shelton’s lengthy par putt grazed the edge of the cup but stayed out, and Griffin knocked in a 7-footer for par and forced the playoff.
“We changed our game plan, shouldn't have done that,” Shelton said of errant tee shot and bogey at No. 18. “We hit 3‑wood off the tee. We hadn't done it all week. I don't know why. It was a little downwind, we were thinking we'd get in the bunker, but in the playoff I hit two drivers and played really well. That's the only mental mistake we had all day really.”
The win signified Shelton’s emergence from a rabbit hole he sent himself down after a stellar rookie season on the PGA TOUR.
Shelton, who earned his TOUR card following the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour season, had just finished No. 66 in the 2019-20 FedExCup Standings and T59 at the 2020 BMW Championship, the second of three events in the FedExCup Playoffs. For reasons even he cannot discern, Shelton tinkered with his swing and changed his ball flight from a draw to a cut.
The end result was a No. 166 finish on the 2020-21 FedExCup Standings, followed by lackluster outings at the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Finals which sent Shelton back to the Korn Ferry Tour.
“I'm very frustrated at doing it to myself,” Shelton said. “Golfers are trying to chase perfection and it's just not going to happen. I got on TOUR and I just kind of wanted to be somebody else. Now I know my game, and I know everything about it now because I studied it, studied it, studied it to where I know what's going to happen on the course when something goes on. It made me stronger, it made me better.
“I did not look down on it at all,” Shelton said of his relegation to the Korn Ferry Tour. “I played pretty bad last year and I was just happy to get full status out here from the wins (in 2019). We left Korn Ferry [Tour] Finals last year and didn't think we had status, thought I had to go back to Q‑School. Being able to have full status out here, set my schedule, I was looking forward to it.”
With the help of Tampa, Florida-based teaching professional Matt Mitchell, Shelton rediscovered his former self. Back was the three-time All-America First Team selection and 2014 National Freshman of the Year from the University of Alabama, the rising star who finished T3 at the 2015 Barbasol Championship between his sophomore and junior seasons, the rookie who won his third start on PGA TOUR Canada in 2017 and catapulted himself onto the Korn Ferry Tour before his 23rd birthday.
Sure, he made it a little tough on himself, but Shelton’s finally back on the path to the PGA TOUR.
The win moved Shelton from No. 63 to No. 14 on the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Points List, giving him a rather comfortable 138-point cushion between himself and the No. 25 spot.
“You just want to win,” Shelton said. “It solves everything. I feel amazing. I definitely want to make the next step again and, hopefully, stay out there a little longer.”
A major consolation for Griffin was the fact he and Brandon Matthews both earned #TOURBound status. Griffin, a three-time runner-up this season, and Matthews crossed the 875-point mark the Korn Ferry Tour is currently using as its fail-safe threshold for players to finish inside The 25 and earn a PGA TOUR card at regular season’s end.
The 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season continues Thursday with the first round of the Wichita Open Benefiting KU Wichita Pediatrics at Crestview Country Club in Wichita, Kansas.