Brooks Koepka rallied in the final round on Sunday to earn the win by one stroke at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Koepka had come into the tournament with three consecutive missed cuts, the first such streak of his career. The four-time major champion has been looking to round back into form after injuries sidelined him late in the 2020 season.
Oddsmakers had put his odds for a victory in the Waste Management at +5000, something that seemed to be a motivating factor. Koepka had managed to shoot rounds of 68-66-66 to keep within striking distance of the leaders with a 13-under-par total going into Sunday’s play.
A bogey on his second hole dropped him back to 12-under-par, six shots behind the leaders, who had yet to tee off. An eagle on the par-5 third hole got him to 14-under, but nine pars in a row failed to improve his standing to par.
Meanwhile, one of his playing partners, James Hahn was tearing up the course and after his sixth birdie of the day on the 10th hole, he led by three shots at 19 under par. Hahn and the rest of the contenders struggled the rest of the way, opening the door for Koepka.
Three consecutive birdies beginning on the par-5 13th got him to 17-under-par and a tie for the lead. After parring the 16th hole, he found himself with an eagle chip on the drivable par-4 17th hole. His 98-foot chip found the bottom of the hole, launching him into the lead at 19-under-par.
Koepka finished with a par on his finishing hole for a one-shot victory, his eighth on TOUR and second at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Xander Schauffele once again found himself in second place, tied with Lee at 18-under-par. Jordan Spieth ended up tied for fourth at 17-under-par after a 1-over-par 72.
Koepka finished with a par on his finishing hole for a one-shot victory, his eighth on TOUR and second at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Spieth and Schauffele Struggle on Sunday
Entering the final round of the tournament, the two golfers tied at the top of the leaderboard were looking to end victory droughts. Schauffele had recorded seven runner-up finishes since his last win at the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
For Spieth, he was hoping to regain the form that last saw him cashing a winner’s check in the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. The former FedEx Cup champion had dropped to 92nd in the Official World Golf Rankings and had been struggling with his game.
Spieth had surged to the top of the leaderboard during Saturday’s third round after some spectacular play on the back nine. He birdied six holes coming home for a nine-hole score of 30 and a round of 61, good enough for a tie with Schauffele at 18-under-par.
The pair were among six golfers that we highlighted as betting favorites and were three shots ahead of Scottie Scheffler and Kyoung-Hoon Lee. The golf world was looking forward to a shootout between Spieth and Schauffele that would result in one of them finally getting back in the winner’s circle.
Unfortunately, both players found themselves 2-over-par for their rounds after bogeys on the seventh hole, bringing as many as 10 players back into contention. With ample scoring opportunities on the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course’s final six holes, the tournament was suddenly wide open.
A Few Fans in Attendance at WMPO
Traditionally, the Waste Management Phoenix Open is the best attended event on the PGA TOUR with more than 700,000 spectators making it to the course for the week. Even though there weren’t the throngs of spectators present, the organizers did allow about 5,000 fans a day to attend.
It was a welcome change after almost eight months of golf played without any spectators allowed on the courses. The famous par-3 16th hole, where 16,000 raucous fans generally greet the player, was relatively tame with the crowd reduced to 2,600.