Peter Malnati – Amid The Emotion & The Tears, The Joy Of A Humble New Tour Champion

Peter Malnati is not one of your ‘name’ players competing on the PGA Tour.

In fairness to the Tennessee-based golfer it was not till February 2022 when the PGA Tour announced that both Malnati and Webb Simpson had been elected by the PGA Tour’s membership to be co-chairmen of the 16-member Player Advisory Council (PAC) that many wondered who he was.

Closer observers of the game may recall October last year when Malnati ‘had a go’ at Lexi Thompson on social media when news was released that she was to make her PGA Tour debut at the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas. His original comments caused some controversy when Malnati seemed to imply that Thompson was only being included in the event to ‘drum up’ attention.  He later swiftly walked back from his awkward ‘gimmick’ comments.

No, that was all forgotten yesterday afternoon in one of the more emotional victory speeches witnessed on a final green of any golf tournament whether it be the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour or the LPGA or LET tours.

The tears flowed not only from Malnati’s eyes but surely many watching on TV as the 36-year-old stood there, and with young son Hatcher in his arms, struggling to speak what it meant to again be a winner.

“That moment of winning a tournament and having your family come out on the green and the big hugs and all that, that’s something that I’ve seen other families have and that has been my dream,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of stretches of golf in the last nine years when I wondered if I would ever have that experience. I’m at peace with who I am and the way I live and the work that I put into this. If I had never had the moment I had today, I would have been completely fine.

“But, man, was that special. That was so special. It felt amazing. It was really validating for just all the hard work, all the times I’ve gotten on that plane and flown away from my family when they have stayed home. It was all preparing for that moment.

“So to get that second PGA Tour win, to have it be here at the Valspar Championship, I just — it’s sinking in now, but it still feels completely surreal”

It has been over nine years since Malnati captured a maiden PGA Tour event with victory at the 2015 Sanderson Farms Championship.

Since that maiden Tour victory he’s got married and if the father of two sons but inside the ropes, Malnati has been your quintessential definition of a journey-man pro contesting 258 PGA Tour events heading into last week’s Valspar Championship and making the cut in 126 that, of course, included his only Tour success.

Two years after that maiden Tour win he returned to the 2017 Sanderson Farms Championship and despite a respectable T34th finish he slumped to the World No. 694th ranked player, a worst ranking since his 1,543rd standing at the start of his 2013 Kornferry Tour season.

After Sunday’s victory on the famed Copperhead course at the Innisbrook Resort, Malnati jumped from 184th ranked player the new World No. 65 and 78 places higher than his prior OWGR best of 143rd in February, 2021.

And not only was there the first prize cheque of $US 1.5m and the two-year Tour exemption but a maiden Masters appearance.

“I got asked a lot when I was a kid, my uncle has tickets to the Masters, do you want to come, my friend has tickets to the Masters, do you want to come, and I always said no, I don’t want to go watch people play golf. That doesn’t sound fun. So I didn’t go,” he said.

“And then as I became a PGA Tour member and played on the PGA Tour, became a winner on the PGA Tour, I would occasionally meet the right person who would say, hey, do you want to come play Augusta? I was like, no. Like, I want to go play Augusta when I’m in the Masters. That’s when I want to go play Augusta.

“So the fact that I — it’s still an invitational. They can choose not to invite me, I suppose, but I think historically they’re pretty consistent and I think I’ll get an invitation. I’ll probably accept that invitation and go play the Masters (laughing), which will be really, really — I mean, the realization of another childhood dream.

“Yeah, I mean, I guess, yeah, that’s cool. It hasn’t sunk in yet at all because, I mean, I’m I — I guess I’m going to be there in — when is it?”.

Malnati will make his Masters debut on April 11th.

 



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