HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Carl Pettersson had another fast start and finished with a 2-under 69 for a five-shot victory over Zach Johnson on Sunday in the RBC Heritage.
Pettersson had a run of five straight birdies on the front nine during the third round Saturday to move in front. This time, Pettersson birdied three of the first five holes and built a five-shot lead by the turn that he never relinquished. He finished at 14 under.
It was Pettersson’s fifth career PGA Tour title and first since the 2010 Canadian Open. He tied countryman Jesper Parnevik for most wins on tour by a Swedish player.
“It was great,” Pettersson said. “I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself, so I kind of downplayed the whole thing. But getting off to a birdie on one was great.”
Pettersson, second in thel Houston Open two weeks ago, earned $1,026,000.
Top-ranked Luke Donald needed to finish eighth or better to retain his ranking, but tied for 37th and will fall behind Rory McIlroy.
Johnson shot a 70 to finish second at 9 under, while Colt Knost’s chances for his first PGA Tour title fell apart with a 74. He was third, another shot further back.
Kevin Stadler (68) and Billy Mayfair (69) tied for fourth at 6 under. Two-time Heritage winner Boo Weekley had his worst round of the week, 73, to tie for sixth with Matt Bettencourt (69).
Calgary’s Stephen Ames closed with a 74, and finished 15 shots back at 285. Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., carded a 72, to finish at 287.
Masters winner Bubba Watson and most of the world’s best took the week off to recover from the year’s first major.
Pettersson rolled in a 24-footer on No. 1 to get things started with a birdie. He added another birdie, from 16 feet on the par-3 fourth hole, then two-putted from 40 feet on the par-5 fifth to go up by four shots. When Johnson took bogey at No. 10, Pettersson was five strokes in front and cruising.
Knost was on top after Thursday and Friday and felt good as part of the final pairing. But those nerves Knost acknowledged on Saturday were apparantly back again in the final round.
He missed an 8-foot putt for par and made bogey on No. 1 for a second straight round to drop three shots behind Pettersson. And just like Saturday, Knost fought back with a birdie on the second hole — he made eagle there in the third round — to close in on Pettersson.
However, Knost’s chances ended, though, a hole later with a horrible drive out of bounds left on No. 3 that led to a triple-bogey seven and left him five shots behind and out of contention.
When Knost flew his approach to the 12th green way left, he simply stood in the fairway and stared straight ahead, hands on hips, in disbelief.
Pettersson didn’t let Knost’s troubles affect his focus. “He had a tough time out there,” Pettersson said. “But there were still other guys with a chance.”
Johnson, four strokes behind Pettersson at the start, tried to make a charge with birdies on the second, fourth and fifth holes. Johnson closed to three shots when he birdied No. 15 and Pettersson had his first bogey of the day moments later.
But Johnson ran out of steam on the 16th hole when he drove into a waste bunker and took bogey. Still, it was Johnson’s best showing of the year and first top-10 finish since January.
Donald was largely resigned to surrendering No. 1 when he woke up early for his 9:46 a.m. start time, more than four hours before the final group of Pettersson and Knost teed off.
Donald’s round began badly with a double bogey at No. 1.
He worked his way back with birdies on the fifth and sixth hole and that’s where he stayed. Donald ended a four-week run at No. 1 that began after he won the Transitions Championship last month.
Donald said he’s proved he’s among the world’s best and is confident he’ll stay in that conversation, no matter where he’s ranked. “Now, my focus is winning tournaments,” he said.
Donald headed the list of four golfers among the 20 who followed the Masters with Harbour Town. World No. 13 Webb Simpson finished at 4 over while No. 14 Matt Kuchar, two strokes from the playoff in third at Augusta National, also was way off the pace at 3 over. No. 18 Bill Haas did not make the cut.
Pettersson’s last victory came at the RBC Canadian Open in 2010 and this win was likely just popular with first-year Heritage sponsor Royal Bank of Canada.
The financial institution, along with the Boeing Co., stepped in last June to back the cash-strapped event which was in danger of disappearing without such support.
Divots: Sean O’Hair played by himself as Sunday’s first tee time and finished a 2-over 73 in one hour, 55 minutes. … 2010 champion Jim Furyk was a stroke off the lead Thrusday with an opening 68. Furyk was only able to improve one stroke the final 54 holes. … Brian Harman, a 25-year-old pro from nearby Savannah, Ga., had a horrible final eight holes during his round of 82. Harman had four bogeys, two double bogeys and a triple bogey during that stretch.