Golf: Koepka’s first win in 18 months, denies Lee his maiden PGA Tour glory

Correspondent SCOTTSDALE | Updated on February 08, 2021

Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka secured his eighth PGA TOUR title with a closing 65, highlighted by a spectacular chip-in eagle on the 17 hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and in the process denied Korea’s K.H. Lee the glory of a maiden PGA TOUR win.

The 29-year-old Lee closed with a 3-under 68 at TPC Scottsdale to share second place with co-overnight leader Xander Schauffele (71) as they ended a stroke back of Koepka (65).

It was Koepka’s eighth PGA TOUR title and it came after a gap of 18 months during which the world of golf had begun to question Koepka’s form and game. Even Koepka had begun asking. Interestingly, Koepka triumphed in Phoenix in 2015 for his first TOUR victory.

“There was a period maybe for about two months where I just questioned whether I was ever going to be the same,” he said after shooting the final-round.

In a week when comebacks were the flavour Schauffele was chasing his first victory in over two years and Jordan Spieth was trying to win for the first time in three and a half.

Jordan Spieth, who led into the last round with Schauffele, carded a 72 to settle for tied fourth position alongside veteran star Steve Stricker (67), who was seeking to become the oldest winner on the PGA Tour, and Carlos Ortiz (64).

Koepka was relieved to return into the winner’s circle after a difficult year marred by injuries. He made three straight birdies from the 13 hole before chipping in for eagle on 17 which ended his win drought dating back to July 2019.

Starting the day three behind the co-leaders, Lee hung around the leaderboard all day and briefly tied for the lead with a birdie on the 15 hole. However all hopes of a maiden PGA TOUR victory were dampened when Koepka pulled ahead with a spectacular chip-in eagle from 97 feet on the penultimate hole.

Lee, who has won four times in Asia, had a 33-foot birdie attempt on the 18 hole to force a playoff but agonisingly missed the target. Still, the Korean was beaming with pride as his previous best individual performance was a tied fifth finish at the 2019 RSM Classic while he was equal third with partner Matt Avery at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, also in 2019.

Published on February 08, 2021

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