FORT WORTH, Texas – Justin Rose shot 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 No. 1 the most important of the day. Koepka already was staring at a short birdie putt of his own. They matched birdies on the second hole, as well. Rose hit his approach in tight, while Koepka holed an 8-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 fifth 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 sixth 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 seventh hole, as well. Rose’s birdie on No. 9, which was Sunday’s third-hardest hole, gave him a five-shot advantage heading to the back nine.
They matched birdies on the 11th hole before Koepka made a 15-footer for birdie at No. 13. Then they both birdied No. 15. Koepka added another on the 17th hole, where he holed an 18-footer. He could have tied the course record, which was matched earlier in the day by Kevin Na, with a birdie at 18.
But, in a rather anticlimactic finish to an old-fashioned duel that seemed fitting in Fort Worth, both players made bogey on 18. Still, the two former U.S. 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.”
COURSE RECORD FOR NA
A pond guards the left side of the 18th green, but Na wasn’t going to play safe. Not with the course record on the line.
He knew he needed to birdie the final hole to tie the course record. He almost did one better. His 146-yard approach shot landed about six feet right of the hole, then spun left and nearly dropped in the hole. He tapped in to shoot 61 and tie the course record.
“I played amazing today,” Na said. “I struck it beautifully, made a ton of putts.”
Na finished fourth at 14-under 266. He was the first-round leader after shooting a 62 that he capped off with a chip-in on his final hole. Na shot was 3 over par over the next 36 holes (73-70) before charging back into contention Sunday.
“Round 1 and today, it felt like it was Groundhog Day,” Na said. He moved to 46th in the FedExCup standings with his third top-10 of the season (T2, Genesis Open; T6, AT&T Byron Nelson) and second in a row.
He hit 14 greens Sunday and needed just 23 putts. He holed two putts from outside 25 feet: a 45-footer for birdie at the 10th hole and a 33-footer for birdie on the 14th hole.
Na is the seventh player to shoot 61 at Colonial, and the first since 2004.
Joaquin Niemann, the 19-year-old who impressed in his pro debut at the Valero Texas Open (T6), collected another top-10 in the Lone Star State. Niemann finished eighth after shooting 65-66 on the weekend at Colonial. He also finished T6 in his pro debut at the Valero Texas Open. Niemann is in next week’s Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. His top-10 in Fort Worth also earned him a start in the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Niemann has earned 180 non-member FedExCup points, which would rank him 144th in this season’s FedExCup standings. He can earn his card for the 2018-19 season if he finishes in the top 125. Niemann already has clinched a spot in the Web.com Tour Finals, and he needs just 89 points to earn special temporary membership, which would allow him to accept unlimited sponsor exemptions this season.
Jordan Spieth shot par or better in all four rounds at Colonial and said that he saw progress with the putting that has frustrated him this season. “I made progress this week,” Spieth said. “Each week is getting a little better.” Spieth finished T32 at 5-under 275 (69-68-70-68). He had never finished outside the top 15 in five previous starts here. He had two runners-up and a win in his previous three appearances at Colonial. He finished 70th out of 78 players in Strokes Gained: Putting, losing 3.6 strokes on the greens this week.
Rickie Fowler finished T14 after posting four consecutive rounds in the 60s, including a final-round 68. He made three birdies and just one bogey (No. 9) in the final round to move up one spot in the FedExCup. He is now 21st in the standings.
QUOTABLEWhen you’re in that rarified air in the FedExCup, you start to think about positioning yourself in the top 5 for East Lake. We all know that’s a big, big deal.
Low round: Kevin Na’s course-record 61 was the low round of the day by two shots. Koepka fired 63 while putting pressure on Rose in the final group.
Longest drive: Tom Lovelady hit a 356-yard drive on the first hole. He made birdie as part of his 72 that left him in 58th place.
Longest putt: Matt Kuchar rolled in a 60-footer for par on the seventh hole. He shot 70 on Sunday and finished in 32nd place. Kuchar birdied the first two holes, bogeyed the next two, then rolled off 14 consecutive pars.
Hardest hole: The 474-yard, par-4 fifth hole played to a 4.24 scoring average. Justin Rose’s birdie was the ninth made on the hole on Sunday.
Easiest hole: The par-5 first hole played was the easiest hole for the fourth consecutive day. It played to a 4.56 scoring average Sunday and a 4.53 average for the week. There were more birdies (193) than pars (169) on the hole this week.
CALL OF THE DAY
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SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Brooks Koepka's hole-out bunker for Shot of the Day