Mattiace puts heartbreak behind him

Len Mattiace will try to put his emotions and a stunning near-miss behind him this week at The Heritage.

Len Mattiace will try to put his emotions and a stunning near-miss behind him this week at The Heritage.

A number of the PGA Tour’s prominent members are taking the weekend after the Masters off, but Mattiace will play in the €4.5m event just days after losing a gut-wrenching play-off to Mike Weir in golf’s most prestigious tournament.

Fifteen years after competing at Augusta National as an amateur, Mattiace came from nowhere to take the lead, missing the best closing round in Masters history by a stroke with a seven-under-par 65.

He finished the regulation holes with a bogey and lost on the first play-off but still had the day of his life.

“It was very, very special,” said the 35-year-old, who won his only two PGA Tour titles last season and was near tears after the loss.

Before Sunday, he was best remembered for his collapse at the 1999 Players Championship, where his mom watched from a wheelchair shortly before she died of lung cancer.

While Mattiace has entered, Weir is among those resting on the holiday weekend, as is Tiger Woods.

The field includes Ernie Els of South Africa, who tied for sixth at The Masters but tied Mattiace for the lowest final 54 holes, following a 79 with rounds of 66, 72 and 70.

Els opened the season by winning the first two PGA Tour events of the year, then claimed two more in Europe but he has been slowed by a recent wrist injury suffered on a punching bag.

Jim Furyk, who was in contention on Sunday at The Masters before settling for a fourth-place finish, has also entered.

He has been ninth or better in five consecutive starts, including a controversial Monday play-off loss to Scott Hoch at Doral.

Hoch is back in action this week after missing the cut at The Masters and withdrawing from the Players Championship.

The defending champion is Justin Leonard, who missed the cut at Augusta, thanks to an opening-round 82.

He is three starts removed from his win at the Honda Classic – his eighth career victory and fourth in as many seasons.

Davis Love will return to his favourite place, having won here in 1987, 1991, 1992 and 1998 for four of his 16 career titles. He tied for fifth last season, finishing four strokes behind Leonard.

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