ORLANDO — If only everyone had an opportunity to figure out exactly how they’d react if they were about to win $3.6 million.
That’s the situation that Kurt Kitayama found himself in late Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, only a couple hours after it looked like an ugly triple-bogey 7 on the ninth hole had ruined his chances of winning for the first time on the PGA Tour.
But Kitayama, 30, a man nicknamed “Quadzilla” by Xander Schauffele because of his prodigious thighs, told his caddie Tim Tucker that he was not rattled and that he knew with nine holes remaining, that anything could happen.
It did. Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth were among a group of top-ranked players who had a chance to win the trophy at Bay Hill but faltered. Ultimately, it was Quadzilla who only needed par on the last hole to win, which he did.
But even that was eventful.
After hitting his drive in the thick, left rough, Kitayama was able to punch out his approach and onto the green 48 feet from the hole. From there he only needed to two putt.
He sent the first putt on the way and as it was tracking it looked for a moment as if it was going to go in. But it stopped mere centimeters short.
And, yet, Kitayama marked it. That’s right he marked a putt from inside a half inch for $3.6 million. (Side note: Before this week Kitayama’s career earnings on the PGA Tour were $4.2 million.)
“I thought I was going to set it and it was going to just roll in,” Kitayama confessed.