Brooks Koepka Enhances Player of the Year Case with WGC Win

Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka is once again in the winner’s circle. A familiar spot for the World No. 1, who has dominated the game of golf the last two years. Despite only needing 45 minutes of prep for his final round, Koepka cruised to victory at the WGC FedEx-St. Jude Classic, shooting a final round 65.

While the rest of the field faltered down the stretch, particularly 54-hole leader Rory McIlroy, Koepka remained steady and solid. His 64 percent driving accuracy, 61 percent greens in regulation and 3.65 strokes gained: putting, demonstrates Koepka’s ability to close on golf’s biggest stages.

“This place has always been special to me with FedEx being here, St. Jude here,” said Koepka after his final round. “To win here makes it extra special.”

Brooks Koepka Putting Top-Notch in Final Round

Last week at the Open Championship, Koepka was strong driving the ball in the fairway and his approach play. But the short and medium-length putts hindered the four-time major champion’s chances of claiming his first Claret Jug.

In the final round in Memphis, Koepka’s putter was clicking. With five birdies and no bogeys on the card, Brooks was able to maintain his consistent play, propelling himself to the top of the leaderboard. Even on the medium length par saves, such as holes 2, 14 and 15, Koepka ensured that he wasn’t going to spoil his opportunity to win a World Golf Championship.

“Obviously the putt on two was big, but I hit three poor shots and one good one,” recalled Koepka. “All you need is the last one to be good, and then to make the putt, I carried that momentum the rest of the way.”

The opposite could not be truer for Rory McIlroy, the 54-hole leader of the tournament. Despite hitting 71 percent of his drives in the fairway, he only converted 56 percent of his greens in regulation, with a -1.68 strokes gained: putting. Nothing seemed to be going in for McIlroy, who only converted one birdie with two bogeys on the card. After starting the day one ahead of Koepka, McIlroy’s putting led to inexorable challenges that hampered his final round.

No Doubt that Koepka is Best Player in the World

With Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy going head to head in the final group on Sunday for the inaugural time, it epitomized a duel between two golf titans. In this decade alone, both Koepka and McIlroy each have four major titles. They are World No. 1 and No. 3 in the golf rankings, who each won twice this year going into Sunday.

But any question of who the best player in the world should be put to rest. Like in his four major victories, it was Koepka who once again displayed intense mental resiliency and an all-around complete game to stymie McIlroy and the rest of the field. Brooks once again affirmed that he comes to play his best golf at the tournaments that have the greatest symbolic value in the calendar.

“That’s the whole goal is to win as many times as you can throughout the year and turn up for the big events and make sure you’re in contention,” said Koepka. 

With the victory, Koepka secures the No. 1 position atop the FedEx Cup standings heading into the Playoffs in two weeks. This earned him an extra $2 million bonus from Wyndham Rewards. With his third tournament win this year, along with finishing no worse than fourth at all four major championships, it is a testament to the consistency Koepka is exuding on a golf course.

At the 2017 U.S. Open, a lingering reality hit Koepka after he won his first major championship.

“I’m mentally and physically stronger than all these guys,” he told the Golf Channel. 

As the 2019 season comes to a close, the whole golf world continues to look up at the most physical, mental warrior on a golf course. And his name is Brooks Koepka.