Justin Rose shot a 64 on Sunday after starting the final round with a four-shot lead, but that doesn’t mean his final round of the Fort Worth Invitational was without its stressful moments.
Brooks Koepka, who played alongside him in Sunday’s final group, applied the pressure with a 63 of his own.
Rose and Koepka each made eight birdies Sunday. At least one of them made a birdie on 10 of Colonial’s 18 holes. They birdied the same hole six times.
‘It was a hard-fought victory,’ Rose said after his three-shot win, the ninth of his PGA Tour career. ‘I’m glad that my “A game” turned up when I needed it.’
He finished at 20-under 260, one shot off the tournament record, after shooting 66, 64, 66, 64. Rose became the fifth multiple winner this season and moved to No 2 in the FedExCup.
Koepka’s 63 was his second of the week – he also shot one Friday – and his third in his past five rounds. He closed The Players with a 63 that matched TPC Sawgrass’ course record.
Rose needed his best from the very start. He called his 10-foot birdie putt on the 1st, the most important of the day. Koepka was already staring at a short birdie putt of his own. They matched birdies on the 2nd hole as well. Rose hit his approach in tight, while Koepka holed an eight-footer.
‘I was nervous there starting my round,’ Rose said. ‘It was sort of the dream start again. That settled me down. As it turned out, that’s exactly what I needed to do, because Brooks was matching me shot-for-shot.’
Rose bogeyed the next hole but birdied the 5th hole to regain his four-stroke advantage. It was just the ninth birdie on the hole that was Sunday’s most difficult.
Koepka drove into the trees on the 6th hole and then punched out into a greenside bunker, but he holed the sand shot to match Rose’s fairway-and-green birdie. They both birdied the 7th hole as well. Rose’s birdie on the 9th, which was Sunday’s third-hardest hole, gave him a five-shot advantage heading to the back nine.
But, in a rather anticlimactic finish to an old-fashioned duel that seemed fitting in Fort Worth, both players made bogey on the last. Still, the two former US Open champions provided a memorable finish to one of the Tour’s most historic events.
‘I always seem to run into a buzz saw,’ said Koepka, who collected the sixth runner-up finish on the PGA Tour. He also was runner-up to Rose at this season’s World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
‘He played so well,’ Koepka said. ‘It was impressive to watch.’
Louis Oosthuizen went 64-68 on the weekend to finish in a share of fifth place but some 10 shots behind Rose. Oosthuizen was three under through five and looking set for an outside charge before a double drop on the 9th following some trouble in the left rough short of the green derailed any bid for his first win on US soil.
The South African, who lost his No 1 ranking to Branden Grace last week, played the inward nine in one under to secure a strong finish as he was joined in the top 20 by Tyrone van Aswegen (-7 and T14) and Rory Sabbatini (-6 and T20).
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