Local Sports

Koepka Outlasts McIlroy, The Field for Win at St. Jude Invititional

It wasn't a major championship, but there was still plenty at stake for Brooks Koepka at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Sunday at TPC Southwind. 


The four-time major winner and three-time 2019-20 PGA Tour champion rolled in for his 1 p.m. CT tee time well after noon. This is about the pace at which Koepka lives and plays, though, and it's served him well.


Koepka rolled out of his parking space and shot a 3-under 32 on the front nine as playing partner -- and 54-hole leader -- Rory McIlroy sputtered to an even-par 36. Things didn't get better for McIlroy on the back as Koepka continued his clean card and went on to close with a 5-under 65 for a five-stroke boat race over the Ulsterman, who finished T4. Koepka cleared runner-up Webb Simpson by three after shooting all four rounds under par.


McIlroy fell back to the pack after crushing on the first three days, and made just 34 feet of putts on his first 13 holes. Koepka, on the other hand, led the field in strokes gained putting on the day and on the week.


There was more than just a WGC (Koepka's first) at stake on Sunday. The win guaranteed Kopeka will finish atop the FedEx Cup regular-season points race and receive a $2 million bonus. When you toss in his PGA Championship from the spring and CJ Cup from last fall, he's also likely locked up his second straight PGA Tour Player of the Year Award, depending on what happens in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.


Jon Rahm led the field through 18 holes with a scorching 8-under 62, three strokes ahead of the field. Over the next 54 holes, though, he faded into the background as Koepka, Simpson, Marc Leishman and the rest of the field made their charge. It's impossible to be disappointed with a top-10 finish, but with the way he started the weekend, it's impossible to ignore what he could have done.


6 under through his final 36 holes, Jordan Spieth made a spirited effort, but was ultimately doomed by his own mistakes. If not for several blow-ups throughout the week -- specifically two triple-bogeys in Round 1 and two double-bogeys on Sunday -- he could easily have been the winner this weekend. If you replace those four holes with pars, he and Koepka would maybe have been going to a playoff after 72.

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