Malnati’s runner-up a step in the right directionComes up just short at Sanderson Farms Championship but career got a boost
October 04, 2020
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
- October 04, 2020
Peter Malnati’s Round 4 highlights from Sanderson Farms
JACKSON, Miss. – Peter Malnati was an alternate for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open next week, so he was just hoping for a top-10 finish to get himself to Las Vegas.
He did better than that.
The winner of the Sanderson Farms Championship five years ago, Malnati scorched the Country Club of Jackson with a final-round 63 to finish 18 under par. Then he hung out for a few hours with wife Alicia and their son Hatcher, watching as one by one the others failed to match him, before Sergio Garcia birdied the 18th hole to complete a final-round 67 and beat him by one.
Alas, Malnati’s belly laugh at Garcia’s final approach shot – which nearly went in before settling to 30 inches from the pin – spoke volumes. Fine, he didn’t win, but he’d potentially revived his career.
“I've really struggled with my long game,” said Malnati, who again missed the FedExCup Playoffs last season and was 312th in the world coming into the Sanderson Farms. “Consistency in my long game, I should say. I've had weeks where I've been good, but I've really struggled with consistency for the last several years.”
He’s thought about breaking his swing down to fix what he calls his idiosyncrasies, but with the year-round schedule, he said, “There's never a time to take a two-month break to work on a golf swing.”
Malnati wasn’t great with his long game Sunday, either, barely finishing in negative numbers in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, but he took just 23 putts. Then he had to wait an hour and 40 minutes for the final group, Garcia and Australian Cameron Davis, to finish.
“Honestly after the restart, he wasn’t playing very well,” said his caddie, Chad Antus. “Not up until (the Wyndham Championship in) Greensboro did he hit it very well, and then last week (at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship) he didn’t finish that great (T41) but he hit it good, and that continued this week. It’s one of the best weeks I’ve seen him hit the ball, and he putted amazing today.”
Malnati made 139 feet, 6 inches worth of putts Sunday.
“It was impressive,” said Antus, who has worked for Malnati for three and a half years. “Our biggest goal was to try and top-10 because we were third alternate for next week.”
They’re not third alternate anymore. Malnati planned to join Alicia for the long drive home to Knoxville, Tennessee, and then fly to Vegas for the Shriners. Given how far off the radar he’s been the last five years, it was, for all intents and purposes, a win.