Koepka rallies to win Phoenix Open|
Scottsdale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Brooks Koepka fired a bogey-free, 5-under
66 in Sunday's final round as he rallied to win the Phoenix Open by one shot.
Koepka finished his first PGA Tour victory at 15-under-par 269. Though this
was his first PGA win, Koepka won the Turkish Airlines Open on the European
Tour last season, and entered the week ranked 33rd in the world.
"It feels amazing. The last few weeks, I've put in a lot hard work. I've
changed my putting stroke completely. Everything seems to be going right,"
Koepka stated. "I was trying to 2-putt that one (on 15), but I gave the hole
quite a few scares on the back nine. It was a fun day."
Bubba Watson fired a 6-under 65 to share second place for the second straight
year at this event. The Masters champion was joined at minus-14 by first-round
leader Ryan Palmer (66) and Memorial winner Hideki Matsuyama (67).
Martin Laird, who led after the second and third rounds, dropped three shots
in the last two holes to fall into a tie for fifth at 12-under-par 272. He
ended alongside amateur Jon Rahm (68), who is on the Arizona State golf team.
Freddie Jacobson matched the low round of the day at the TPC Scottsdale with
his 7-under 64. He soared into a share of seventh place at minus-11. He shared
seventh with Graham DeLaet (67) and Jordan Spieth (65).
Koepka, who was in the final group with Laird and Matsuyama, was two shots
behind at the turn and remained there as he parred the first three holes of
the back nine.
The 24-year-old made a 4-foot birdie effort at the par-5 13th, but remained
two back as Matsuyama also made birdie to move to 15-under. Matsuyama gave
that shot back as he 3-putted for bogey on the 14th.
Koepka briefly grabbed the lead as he poured in a 51-footer for eagle from off
the green at No. 15. Laird 2-putted for birdie on the same hole to join Koepka
atop the leaderboard at minus-15.
Both Koepka and Laird parred the raucous par-3 16th to remain tied for the
lead. However, Laird fell apart down the stretch. His drive on the short par-4
17th ended in the right rough and he only managed to chip his second to 53
Laird tripped to a 3-putt bogey from there to fall one back, Koepka needed two
putts from 13 feet out for his par. At the last, Koepka bombed his drive right
down the middle before Laird dumped his in the water left of the fairway. That
led to a closing bogey.
Koepka dropped his approach shot to 19 feet. He 2-putted for a closing par to
seal the victory.
"The first five holes were very boring and everybody (else) got off to a hot
start. Hideki holed out on the first hole. It reminded me of Frys two years
ago, the same happened," stated Koepka, who lost the third-round lead at the
2013 Frys.com Open. "But, as far as staying patient, I just had to wait until
the back nine. Nothing was really happening."
On the front side, Koepka carded seven pars and a pair of birdies. He birdied
the sixth from eight feet out and made it two in a row with a 5-foot birdie
putt on No. 6.
Matsuyama holed out for eagle on the first to move within two of Laird. He
later birdied the third and fifth to join Laird in the lead at minus-14.
Matsuyama traded a birdie for a bogey from the 13th then parred out to share
Watson ran off three straight birdies from the second to leap to 11-under.
After four pars, he picked up another birdie at the ninth. The Masters
champion birdied 12 and 13 to gain a piece of the lead at minus-14. Watson
closed with five straight pars to end there.
Palmer slowly climbed the leaderboard with four birdies on the front nine. He
rolled in an 8-footer for birdie on the 15th to briefly tie for the lead.
However, Palmer finished with three consecutive pars to share second.
NOTES: Koepka earned $1.134 million for the victory ... Koepka, who has
finished in the top-10 in each of his three PGA Tour starts this season, has
shot par or better in all 12 of those rounds ... With over 83,00 fans on the
course in the final round, attendance for the week ended at 564,368, which
broke last year's record by 1,360 fans ... The tour heads back to California
next week for the Farmers Insurance Open, where Scott Stallings beat five
players by a single stroke last year.
02/01 19:35:56 ET