Koepka Rallies to Phoenix Title for First Win
If you’re going to have your first win somewhere, it’s hard to pick a better place than the rowdy Waste Management Phoenix Open, on Super Bowl Sunday, with a 50-foot eagle putt.
In what sounds like a more-awesome version of the board game “Clue”, that’s how Brooks Koepka won his first PGA title on Sunday, battling out of a final round that saw five different players hold a share of the lead on the final day.
On the 15th, Koepka putted from just off the green from 50 feet out for eagle to get to 15-under, then watched Bubba Watson miss an easy birdie putt, Martin Laird fly into the fans, and Hideki Matsuyama badly miss a playoff-forcing putt.
Koepka, with wife and new baby waiting at the 19th hole, shot a 5-under 66 to finish at 15-under, one stroke ahead of Watson, Ryan Palmer and Matsuyama.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Koepka “I didn’t think I would work my way up this quickly, but playing the Challenge and European tours led to this. And especially the failure I’ve had. I can’t tell you how much I learned from that.”
Koepka started the day three strokes behind Laird, who made that lead four strokes with a birdie on No. 1. Koepka closed within two with back-to-back birdies on 6 and 7. Laird was still in it until he fell apart with a bogey on 17 and a double on 18.
Watson, clearly a fan favorite, six strokes behind Laird to start the round, but made a charge early with consecutive birdies on 2, 3, and 4. He continued his push by birdying 9, 12, and 13, but couldn’t find anything but pars the rest of the way.
Matsuyama put the pressure on Laird early, with an eagle on No. 1 and birdies on 3 and 5 to take the lead, but his ill-timed bogey on 15, and the subsequent missed putt on 18 were his undoing.
Fourteen players in all shot at least 10-under.