K.H. Lee Defends Byron Nelson Title In Low-Scoring Final Day

On a day when players were scoring for fun, it was defending champion, K.H. Lee, who picked up the title

Lee smiles
(Image credit: Getty Images)

After securing his first PGA Tour title just 12 months ago, South Korean K.H. Lee doubled his tally, as he became just the fourth ever player to defend the AT&T Byron Nelson (opens in new tab) trophy.

On a day where anything worse than four-under-par would mean you went backwards, Lee constructed a fantastic blemish-free final round, with seven birdies and an eagle securing a one shot win over Jordan Spieth in Texas.

"It feels amazing!" explained Lee, following his second win at TPC Craig Ranch (opens in new tab). "When I am here it feels very comfortable. I haven't had a top 10 finish this year, but when I'm here I feel I get more confidence.

"Everybody birdies and eagles around this golf course, so I knew I had to produce a couple of birdies and eagles as well. My eagle-birdie run really helped that. Today I putted so well and it is so amazing."

Lee poses with the trophy

Lee poses with the trophy that he also claimed just 12 months ago

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Starting four shots back of overnight leader, Sebastian Munoz (opens in new tab), it was going to be a day of birdies and eagles, with a number of players looking to go low to guarantee a good paycheque and FedEx Cup points.

The low scores were out there to see, with Xander Schauffele (opens in new tab) and Hideki Matsuyama both producing exceptional rounds as they set the early clubhouse targets. Heading to the PGA Championship (opens in new tab) next week, the duo will be among the favourites and, thanks to a 11-under-par 61 for Schauffele and a 10-under-par 62 for Matsuyama (opens in new tab), both men made up around 20 places over the final day.

For eventual winner, Lee, he too started well, with back-to-back birdies at the second and third being followed by further birdies at the fifth and sixth. Another was added at the ninth, as the 30-year-old stood one shot back of Schauffele who had already finished his round.

Lee would soon take the outright lead, producing an eagle at the 12th and a birdie at the 13th to sit ahead of a stacked leaderboard that included the likes of Spieth and Justin Thomas. 

Spieth shakes hands

Spieth heads to Southern Hills in fantastic form as he looks to complete the career Grand Slam

(Image credit: Getty Images)

With so many in contention, it was difficult to keep track of those chasing the victory but, following a run of pars, Lee produced a gutsy closing birdie to give himself a two-shot buffer over Spieth.

The American had a chance at the 17th to close that gap, but following a missed birdie putt, he would need to eagle the last to force a playoff. A perfect drive followed at the 18th, with his second looking like it would be close. Unfortunately for Spieth (opens in new tab), it came up just shy of the green.

It was now simple, chip-in and the 28-year-old was in a playoff, miss, and the title was heading back into the arms of Lee. As Spieth struck the ball, it was pulled left, meaning the trophy was back in the South Korean's hands.

Lee now becomes the first player in 42 years to go back-to-back at the Byron Nelson, with his 26-under-par tournament total meaning he has played the event in a staggering 51-under. He also joins the likes of Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson as the only players to successfully defend the title.

Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.