Koepka makes it back-to-back heartbreak for McIlroy

World No. 1 Brooks Koepka has sent Rory McIlroy packing in reinforcing his stature as the game’s best with an emphatic three shot success at the WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis.

Koepka quickly brushed aside McIlroy coming from one shot behind in one-putting his first six holes and being unchallenged in posting a closing bogey-free 65 for a 16-under par tally on the TPC Southwind course.

For McIlroy, and after lighting-up the course with a 62 on Saturday, it was a virtual Sunday black-out in posting a disappointing 1-over 71 for a distant share of fourth at 11-under par and five adrift of Koepka.

“I felt close to my best today and having come so close here before in Memphis I am very, very pleased to win,” said Koepka.

“I was a little frustrated with my putting early in the week, so to see some go in today was kind of comforting.”

“From the start today, I wanted to birdie number three as I had bogeyed it twice this week, so once I did that I was fine.”

“It’s always fun to go up against Rory and to say the least, he’s a true competitor and to win against him today was special.”

WITB: Brooks Koepka

  • Titleist Pro V1x Golf Ball
  • TaylorMade M5 Driver (10.5º)
  • TaylorMade M2 Tour HL (16.5º)
  • Nike Vapor Fly Pro (3), Mizuno JPX 919 Tour (4-PW)
  • Vokey Design SM7 Raw (52º, 56º), Vokey SM4 TVD Raw (60º)
  • Scotty Cameron Newport 2 SLT T10 Putter

American Webb Simpson (64) was runner-up at 13-under with Aussie Marc Leishman (63) at 12-under while McIlroy tied with the England duo of Tommy Fleetwood (66) and Matt Fitzpatrick (69) another stroke back.

It took Koepka just three holes to draw level with McIlroy when the American holed a nine-footer for birdie at the par-5 third hole before muscling his way one clear in brilliantly landing a 185-yard second shot to four-feet for birdie at the fifth.

Koepka then went two shots clear of the Ulsterman in holing a dramatic 20-footer at the par-4 sixth hole.

Three body blows to McIlroy in just six shots with Koepka having actually played the same six holes in one-over on both day one and day two while he birdied two and three on day three.

Brooks Koepka Brooks Koepka (Credit: PGA Tour)

“Rory’s putter has officially left the building” is how SKY’s Rich Beem described yet another woeful McIlroy Sunday horror putting show.

A day earlier, McIlroy had just 12 outward putts and two-dozen overall in his sizzling 62 but by the turn on the day four he had recorded 16 putts in posting nine agonising straight pars.

And while Koepka strode proudly towards his first career three-win season, picking-up a fourth birdie at 10, McIlroy then bogeyed the 12th losing further sight of his playing partner and falling back into a tie for third and four behind Koepka.

McIlroy got back to a share of second when he picked-up a first birdie of his day holing a near 20-footer at the par-3 14th.

Up to then, McIlroy remarkably was the only player in the elite 63-player field not to have recorded a final day birdie.

He’d grabbed 17 birdies over the first three days in Memphis and just one when it counted the most.

McIlroy went into the round having led through 54-holes on 12 prior occasions in a PGA sanctioned event and had gone on to claim victory in seven but not in Memphis.

The Ulsterman was also looking to win three or more events in a PGA Tour season for the third occasion and savour a third WGC triumph.

It was not to be and Koepka joined Tiger Woods, Aussie Geoff Ogilvy, Dustin Johnson and McIlroy in winning a Major and a WGC title in the same year.

And in denying McIlroy a third win this year, Koepka steam-rolled his rivals for a seventh PGA Tour success.

Both have a week off before heading into the three-event FedExCup Playoff Series starting on August 8th with the Northern Trust at Liberty National in New Jersey.

Cameron Smith redeemed himself on the final day with a 2-under 68, making up for his 73 on Saturday and leaving him in a share of 12th. Jason Day and Adam Scott failed to fire again this week and finished in equal 40th place.