Brooks Koepa bested Rory McIlroy with a final round 65 to ease to his first WGC title at the FedEx St Jude Invitational
It wasn’t the final round battle fans were hoping for, but instead a dominant performance from the World No.1 as he cruised to a final round five-under 65 and a three stroke victory over Webb Simpson at 16-under-par.
McIlroy had begun the final round one shot clear but was beaten by his playing partner by six shots on Sunday as he finished tied for fourth place on 11-under-par.
“That would have been incredible for the fans, for everybody that showed up and I’m sure that’s what everybody wanted,” Koepka said of the potential Sunday had to be a shootout between the final pairing.
“Rory didn’t play the way he wanted to today, but still it’s so much fun to watch him play. You kind of get glued watching him hit balls. I mean, it’s mesmerizing watching him hit. You know it’s always nice to squeak out a victory over probably the best player right now.”
It was a rocky start for Koepka over the opening two holes but he quickly found his footing, rolling in birdie putts on the third, fifth and a 20-footer on the sixth to overtake McIlroy and gain a two-shot lead.
That performance on the greens, the foil to his game at Royal Portrush the week previous, was key to his game on Sunday, while McIlroy’s own putting let him down.
Koepka poured in another birdie putt from eight feet on the 10th to increase that lead to three, with Webb Simpson and Marc Leishman both making it to 12-under and in to a share of second with McIlroy.
An untimely miss for par from just under 10-feet on the 12th moved McIlroy four shots behind, and although he holed out from 18-feet for birdie on 14, he dropped another shot a hole later with another miss from eight feet.
Simpson signed for a final round 64 to get to 13-under and set the clubhouse target, but the World No.1 didn’t falter, adding a final birdie at the 17th to get to 16-under and claim his seventh PGA Tour title by seven shots.
Marc Leishman finished in third place on -12, with Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy sharing fouth with Matthew Fitzpatrick.