SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Brooks Koepka is back.
The four-time major champion hadn’t won a PGA Tour title since the 2019 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and suffered through an injury-riddled 2020. When asked on Friday if it felt like it had been a long time since he’d claimed victory, he said, “I would say so. In my mind last year didn’t even happen. I do know it’s been a long time so I’m itching to get a W.”
Koepka scratched that itch in dramatic fashion, chipping in for eagle from 98 feet at the 334-yard 17th hole. It was Koepka’s second eagle of the day and it lifted him to a come-from-behind victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, edging South Korea’s K.H. Lee (68) and Xander Schauffele (71) by one stroke.
Koepka erased a five-stroke deficit heading into the final round with a 24-foot eagle putt at the third hole and a string of three birdies in a row beginning at No. 13. Koepka, who won his maiden Tour title here in 2015, signed for a 6-under 65 and 72-hole total of 19-under 265.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 7, 2021
Former World No. 1 Jordan Spieth, who has plummeted to No. 92 in the rankings and hasn’t won since the 2017 British Open, shared the 54-hole lead after a sizzling 10-under 61. But his troubles off the tee continued to plague him as he ranked last in driving accuracy and pulled his tee shot into the water at the par-5 15th and par-4 17th holes. He closed with a 1-over 72, but recorded his first top-10 finish in nearly a year.
“It’s hard to win golf tournaments and hard to be in that position and trust what you’re doing,” said Rory McIlroy, who closed with 64 to finish T-13. “Today will be a good learning curve for him. It was awesome to see him back to sort of the – not the old Jordan because he’s only like 27 or something – but back to showing us what he can do.”
It was an equally tough final round for World No. 4 Xander Schauffele, who slept with at least a share of the lead on Friday and Saturday nights, but failed to end his winless drought of more than two years. Schauffele pulled his drive into the water at 17, sealing his fate. It’s the fifth time he’s held or shared the 54-hole lead without converting a victory. He recorded his 10th runner-up finish since the start of the 2017-18 season.
As the leaders struggled, it left the door open for someone to surge from the pack. James Hahn started the round five back and led by three strokes after six birdies in his first 10 holes, but he hit into the water on both of the par 5s on the back nine, making four bogeys coming home and finishing T-10 at 15 under.
Koepka endured a two-month layoff in August and September, during which he missed the FedEx Cup playoffs and U.S. Open, to allow his injured knee and hip to heal properly. Despite entering the week having missed three straight cuts for the first time in his career, Koepka kept telling anyone that would listen that his game was fine.
“I feel like I’ve been playing pretty good for a while. I just haven’t scored well,” he said. “I feel back, like I said. Body feels good, so no reason not to play good.”
Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz roared into contention with a 7-under 64 on Sunday and held the clubhouse lead at 17 under until Koepka’s heroics at 17. Koepka lifted his wedge to the sky in celebration and pumped his right fist as his eagle chip dropped in the hole. Oritz finished in a share of third with 53-year-old U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker and Spieth.
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/02/07/brooks-koepka-chips-in-eagle-17-wins-waste-management-phoenix-open/