Brooks Koepka produced a moment of magic at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, as a chip-in eagle on the penultimate hole gave the American a one-shot victory.
Brooks Koepka Wins in Phoenix
The 30-year-old has endured a torrid time of late, missing the majority of the 2020 season with injury, as well as missing the cut in his last three starts.
Koepka won this event back in 2015 but he started the day five shots back of overnight leaders Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele, and a bogey at the second dropped the American even further down the leaderboard.
An eagle at the following hole steadied the ship slightly, but six consecutive pars meant a disappointing one-under front nine.
It has been the back nine however where Koepka has made the majority of his score this week, and a birdie at the par five 13th was the spark that he needed to push on with his round.
A great second shot led to another birdie at the 14th and a flushed long iron on the par five 15th set up an eagle attempt, which he would miss. A tap-in birdie put him into a tie for the lead.
The turning point would come at the short 17th where Koepka’s tricky chip shot never left the hole as it trickled in for an unlikely eagle.
Before the chip-in, there were still 10 players within one shot of the lead: but thanks to his short game magic, the four-time Major winner now had a comfortable two-shot margin playing the last hole.
Koepka safely navigated the 18th and, after watching K.H. Lee miss his birdie attempt, the trophy was his.
“I felt like I’ve been playing really well, even though I’ve been missing cuts it just comes down to scoring. But today I just stayed patient and things just went my way today” Koepka said
“I’ve been in some dark places mentally, I didn’t know whether I was going to be the same again, my knee left knee didn’t feel the same as my right one,
“But I look at all the hard work I’ve been doing with Derek [Samuel], Butch [Harmon], Pete [Cowen], just everybody and I’m very proud of myself and them for everything they’ve done.” He added.
Earlier on it looked as if James Hahn would run away with the tournament, as he made the turn at five-under-par. He then birdied the 10th to increase his lead to three shots.
The American hadn’t won since the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship, but the pressure took its toll as he bogeyed the 11th and found the water on the par five 13th, leading to another bogey.
Hahn then found the water again on the 15th and a bogey at the 17th extinguished all hope of victory.
Overnight leaders Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele had a day to forget, as both failed to build any momentum in the last round.
Spieth had produced a phenomenal round of 61 on Saturday, but a one-over-par round of 72 dropped the American down into a tie for fourth.
Schauffele on the other hand showed glimpses of challenging for the lead, but the American found the water on the 17th and then a fatted wedge shot led to a bogey. He did birdie the last, however it was too little too late as he finished tied second with Lee.
Carlos Ortiz started the day 10 shots back of overnight leaders Spieth and Schauffele and a round of the day 64 catapulted the Mexican into a T4 finish.
Steve Stricker found all 18 greens in regulation, as a final round 67 put the 53-year-old in a tie for fourth. Stricker was looking to become the oldest winner in the PGA Tour’s history, but a level-par front nine halted any chance of victory.
Rory McIlroy produced the joint round of the day as he vaulted himself more than 20 places up the leaderboard and into a T13 finish. The Northern Irishman produced nine birdies and two bogies in a seven-under-par round of 64.