American Brooks Koepka won his first USPGA title by holding off Hideki Matsuyama, Martin Laird and US Masters champion Bubba Watson over the final holes at Phoenix Open on Sunday, to win the US$6.3 million prize.
Koepka fired a bogey-free 66, five-under par, to finish 72 holes on 15-under 269, one stroke in front of Watson, fellow American Ryan Palmer and Japan’s 22-year-old Matsuyama, who missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole to ensure 24-year-old Koepka’s triumph.
“It feels amazing,” Koepka said. “I had quite a few scares, but it was a fun day. Me and Hideki will be battling for quite a while. I hope we’re doing it for a few more years.”
Koepka, ranked 33rd, shared fourth at last year’s US Open and won his first European Tour title in November last year at the Turkish Airlines Open.
“The last few weeks, I’ve put in a lot of hard work, changed my putting stroke completely,” Koepka said. “It paid off.”
Scotsman Laird, the 54-hole leader, stumbled at the finish with a bogey at 17 and a closing double-bogey to share fifth with Spanish amateur Jon Rahm on 272.
Watson made an early charge with three birdies in a row starting at the second hole, then closed the front nine with a birdie and added birdies at the par-3 12th and par-4 13th. He posted the target score in the clubhouse and it nearly paid off.
“A couple shots here and there,” Watson said. “On 17, [I] 3-putted, but I had an 80-footer, then the par-5 [15th] I didn’t hit my tee shot good enough. It was a great day. It was a good challenge. I’ll accept it at the end of the week.”
Laird, Matsuyama and Koepka battled in the final group.
Koepka birdied holes six, seven and 13, and sank a 50-foot eagle putt at the par-5 15th.
Laird, who opened with a birdie, followed with 13 pars until two-putting from 28 feet for birdie at 15 to top Koepka and match him for the lead at 15-under.
Matsuyama opened by making an eagle out of a sand-filled fairway divot, birdied the third, fourth and 13th, but stumbled by missing a six-foot par putt at 14 to stand one off the lead.
At 17, Laird missed an eight-foot par putt to join Matsuyama one off Koepka’s pace as the trio headed for the 18th tee.
Laird found water with his first shot to doom his title bid and Matsuyama found a fairway bunker, but blasted his approach 18 feet from the pin.
Koepka, who never missed a back-nine green over the weekend, put his approach 20 feet from the cup and rolled his birdie putt inches from the cup. After Matsuyama missed, Koepka tapped in for the victory.
Fickle winds produced farcical scenes yesterday on day two of the America’s Cup challenger series in Auckland, as the so-called “flying” yachts spent almost as much time in the water as above it. “I’m not sure today is a really accurate read because it’s so puffy, it’s shifty,” British sailing legend Ben Ainslie said after his Ineos Team UK maintained their perfect start to the Prada Cup series with a third straight win. The series would determine which of the 23m yachts — which fly above the water balanced on hi-tech foil arms — would challenge defending champion Team New Zealand for
VIRUS RISK: India’s Saina Nehwal tested positive for COVID-19 at the Yonex Thailand Open, while three other players were being retested after receiving conflicting results Taiwanese badminton star Tai Tzu-ying yesterday returned to international competition after an eight-month break with a victory at the Yonex Thailand Open in Bangkok. Twenty-six-year-old Tai, 26, the top-seeded player at the tournament, met 18-year-old Thai player Benyapa Aimsaard in the opening round and narrowly won 21-18, 26-24. Her previous tournament was the Yonex All England Open in March last year, where she won the women’s singles title, before the BWF World Tour was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Benyapa was a last-minute replacement after another Thai player pulled out of the event. It was a rollercoaster match for Tai.
NO FAIRY TALE: Non-league Marine tried to bridge the biggest gap between opponents in FA Cup history, but the part-timers fell to a 5-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur Leeds United on Sunday suffered a humiliating FA Cup exit against Crawley Town as the League Two side swept to a stunning 3-0 win, while eighth-tier Marine’s hopes of causing the competition’s greatest shock were crushed in a 5-0 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur. After the spiking COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc with matches across the third round on Friday and Saturday, the FA Cup was back on more familiar ground on Sunday as Leeds became the competition’s latest big name to be knocked out by feisty underdogs. While Marine’s romantic adventure was cut short by a Carlos Vinicius hat-trick, and Chelsea and Manchester
DOUBLES VICTORY: The men’s doubles pairing of Taiwanese Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin downed Malaysians Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi, and face South Koreans today Men’s badminton world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen yesterday marched into the semi-finals of the Thailand Open, defeating younger opponent Lee Zii-jia 21-17, 21-15 after a rally, while Tai Tzu-ying had no trouble getting past her Canadian opponent in the women’s singles. The top male Taiwanese credited calm and focus in securing his win after briefly falling behind against his 22-year-old Malaysian opponent. “I think I had more patience against him and I won most of the long rallies,” the 31-year-old Chou said of Lee. “He wanted to attack [too much] and maybe he lost some focus,” Chou said. In today’s semi-finals, second-seeded Chou faces