MLB.com-backed Malnati, Andrade win in PGA
Royals fan feels connection with World Series champs
When the 2014 season ended for the Kansas City Royals and for MLB.com-sponsored golfer Peter Malnati, they both had one thing in common: unfinished business.
The Royals, of course, had dropped Game 7 of the 2014 World Series to the Giants, stranding the tying run at third base in the bottom of the ninth. Meanwhile, Malnati -- a huge Royals fan -- had earned his PGA Tour card for the first time, but struggled and was unable to qualify again for the 2014-15 season.
Sure enough, within a few days of each other, both the Royals and Malnati took care of their unfinished business. Eight days after Kansas City won its first championship in 30 years by defeating the Mets, four games to one, Malnati captured his first career PGA Tour victory. On Monday, Malnati won the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss., by one stroke over William McGirt and David Toms.
"I'm a pretty emotional guy," Malnati said when reached by phone Monday night. "I'm fairly sappy. I was moved, watching the Royals celebrate last Sunday. I was watching and was like, 'This is cool.' And then for me to go out and have my own celebration today -- I don't know how the two could be connected, but I felt like there was a connection there, for sure."
Last year, Malnati, who keeps a blog, began signing his posts with the phrase "unfinished business," referring to both himself and his favorite baseball team. The way Malnati tells it, his story and the story of the World Series-champion Royals ran directly parallel.
"The Royals made it all the way to the World Series and all the way to Game 7, but they didn't win," Malnati said. "I had unfinished business also, because I had made it to the PGA Tour, but I didn't have any success. I didn't earn my right to stay there. We both had unfinished business.
"And sure enough, the Royals, despite facing some major adversity, they make it all the way back to the World Series, and they take care of that unfinished business last Sunday. This week, in just my third start in my second year on tour, I took care of mine, too."
Malnati wasn't the only MLB.com-sponsored golfer to win this weekend. On the Champions Tour, Billy Andrade took home the Charles Schwab Cup Championship with a win over Bernhard Langer in a playoff.
Andrade shot a six-under-par 64 in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Sunday and forced the playoff by draining a 10-foot putt on the 18th hole. He would then birdie the first hole of the playoff.
But the biggest moment for Andrade came on the 17th hole. His tee shot on the par three sailed long, but ricocheted off a rock and back onto the green.
"Those things have to happen for you to win and sometimes you get bad breaks, you hit a good shot and it turns out bad," Andrade told The Associated Press. "... So you've got to get a little lucky, everyone knows that. It was a fortunate break for me there."
As for Malnati, he was able to wrap up his win in regulation. Rain in Mississippi postponed the final round of the tournament until Monday, when Malnati was forced to play 27 holes because of shortened rounds on Saturday and Sunday.
"It was a little bit of a marathon today, because it was a strange week," Malnati said. "I just felt pretty calm, and I felt really confident. My game was really good, and I just took the 27 holes in stride."
Malnati shot a five-under 67 in his final round, including five birdies on his last 12 holes. He finished his round with a short putt on 18 to maintain the one-shot advantage that he would eventually win by.
With the victory, Malnati gains a PGA Tour exemption for the remainder of the season and the next two seasons -- meaning he's set to remain at the top level for quite a while.
"It felt so surreal," Malnati said. "None of it really sank in. It's starting to -- a little bit. But there's just so many emotions and happy thoughts, and it just doesn't seem real."
Surely there are plenty of folks in Kansas City -- Malnati included -- who are feeling exactly the same way about the Royals right now.