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By : BGA Proshop
In the much anticipated show down between Rory Mc Ilroy and Brooks Koepka (I have spelt his surname now so many times I don’t even to look it up anymore) in the final round of the WGC St. Jude Invitational, things didn’t get off according to plan.
With an hour to tee off no one had seen Koepka on the golf course and spectators, organisers and tournament directors were starting to get worried that Koepka had slept in or was stuck in traffic. But in classic Koepka style he showed up with 45 mins to go, typically most professionals arrive an hour to an hour and a half before tee off to warm up and go through their routine, jumped out of the car and headed to the putting green before hitting the range. Koepka did not look like he was in a rush and just went through what he needed too.
Paired in the final group with McIlory and being one shot back, spectators on the golf course and viewers at home were hoping for a battle royale between two of the best players in the world but unfortunately that never happened. McIlory started with 9 straight pars while Koepka birdied 3 of the first 6 holes to take a 2 shot lead and was starting to tighten his grip on the Invitational.
McIlroy was in form after shooting a 62 on the Saturday to jump into the lead. It was a strong hit out and made many wondering what fireworks they would see on Sunday with the dream pairing of McIlroy and Koepka but that never happened.
Webb Simpson and Australian Marc Leishman tried to make it a contest but in the end Koepka won the tournament but 3 shots. Leishman, who is trying to make a final push for the President’s Cup International Team for December, started the day like McIlroy with nine straight pars but unlike McIlroy got things going on the back nine. He went on the birdie 10, 11 and 12 but stumbled on the 13th with the bogey. He bounced back on the 14th with another birdie but then again made another bogey on the 15th which sealed his fate. He made another birdie on the 16th which put him in outright 3rd which was a strong performance for the Australian.
Simpson on the other hand started with an eagle and birdie in his first 8 holes but bogeyed the 9th. He then got on a run to birdie the 10th, 11th, 13th and 16th but was too far back to catch Koepka and needed him to come back to the field which did not happen.
After his 3 birdies on the front nine, Koepka added another 2 more birdies on the back nine to shoot a bogey free 65 and a three shot victory.
With his first World Golf Championship win, Koepka now boasts seven PGA TOUR titles, six of those coming in a little over two years, four of which are majors.
He not only wrapped up the tournament, but also the top spot in the regular season long Wyndham Rewards battle and its $2 million bonus, a week before the final event. And barring Alex Noren making two albatrosses next week on the par-5 15th at Sedgefield Country Club, Koepka claimed the $1 million Aon Risk Reward Challenge.
All up that is a $4.745 million USD Sunday. Not bad work if you can get it.
“It’s incredible. To look at what I've done this year, just show consistency, try to take my game to a new level and I've done that. To be up there in the FedExCup with a chance in Atlanta, that's incredible,” Koepka said.
“But to win the Wyndham Rewards is incredible. That's what you shoot for. You want to be No. 1, when the season's done and going into the Playoffs, and then to add Aon Risk Reward, it just comes from the consistency. It's incredible to look at how much you could have won today, and to do it, it's been incredible.”
After another strong show out at a major, Koepka had to make a quick trip back from Northern Ireland after the Open Championship where he finished in the top 5 again but caught something on the way back and wasn’t feeling the best this week. He wasn’t making excuses for it as he battled on and talked about rocking up “late” to the final round.
“It doesn't affect your play. It doesn't affect me hitting a golf ball. I mean, I don't feel good. I haven't felt good all week, but I don't want to make an excuse, I'm not trying to complain. Just get on with it. People go to work sick all the time,” he said.
“I always take less time on Sunday. I'm already loose when I get to the golf course. I don't even need to hit balls. I've already stretched, I've already done everything. I don't know why everybody else is in a panic, I'm not. I'm sure you didn't see one ounce of stress on my face.”
Perfect response from the ICEMAN himself.