Garnett wins Puerto Rico Open, qualifies for The Players

Garnett wins Puerto Rico Open, qualifies for The Players

RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico — Brice Garnett holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole Sunday to win the Puerto Rico Open in his first tournament of the year, sending him to The Players Championship next week and giving him PGA Tour status for nearly three full seasons.

Garnett closed with a 3-under 69 at Grand Reserve Golf Club, getting back in the game with consecutive birdies on the 13th and 14th and then saving par on the 18th in regulation.

Erik Barnes closed with a 68, also saving par on the 18th. They finished at 19-under 269.

Both had their chances in the playoff, each time on the 630-yard closing hole. Garnett missed a 12-foot birdie putt for the win on the first extra hole. Barnes holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole, with Garnett matching him from 6 feet.

Barnes narrowly missed from 12 feet after Garnett’s birdie on the fourth playoff hole.

Garnett was emotional when it was over, and it’s easy to understand why. He won in the Dominican Republic in 2018 for his only PGA Tour victory, but he fell outside the top 150 last year and was reduced to having low status as a past champion.

Given this year of signature events and high stakes on the PGA Tour, this was the first tournament that had room for him. The Puerto Rico Open was held opposite the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Garnett referred to it as his “Augusta,” so important because it would give him a chance to pick up FedExCup points. It worked out better than he can imagine.

The victory comes with a two-year exemption — the rest of 2024 on the PGA Tour, plus the next two years. Along with The Players Championship next week and its $25 million purse, Garnett is in the PGA Championship, and he starts next year in Kapalua for The Sentry.

“It’s huge,” he said. “I was so excited for the opportunity to compete out here again. I get three more years on this tour, some events I get in. There was really a lot of unknowns this year.”

Jimmy Stanger had a good chance to join the playoff. He was left of the green in two on the 18th and needed to get up-and-down for birdie. But he bladed his chip across the green and had to settle for par and a 70.

Stanger tied for third with Victor Perez (65) and Hayden Springer (68).

Ben Kohles, the 54-hole leader, didn’t make a birdie until the 15th hole. He still had a chance going to the par-5 18th to join the playoff, but he three-putted from 35 feet for bogey and closed with a 73 to tie for sixth.