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Kokrak edges Spieth at Colonial for win No. 2

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(*2*) let it’s recognized heading into Sunday at the Charles Schwab Challenge that he welcomed the possibility to play spoiler to hometown favourite, previous champion and 54-hole chief Jordan Spieth. Then he seized the chance, grinding out an even-par, final-round 70 at Colonial Country Club to safe a two-stroke victory for his second profession title.

The win marked the 36-year-old Kokrak’s second win in his final 17 begins and made him the third a number of winner this season together with Bryson DeChambeau and Stewart Cink. Kokrak received his first profession title in October at the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in his 233rd begin.

“It feels really good to solidify that I’m not just a one-time winner on the PGA Tour,” he mentioned. “Definitely is nice to get the second win, especially at an historic place like Colonial Country Club. Feels great. Looking forward to what’s in store for the future, and you know, all I can do, and I tell everybody all I try to do is to get better every single year. It’s not a flash in the pan.”

The Ohio native, who completed at 14-under 266, inserted himself into the dialog early with an opening-round 65, two off the tempo of 18-hole leaders Spieth and Sergio Garcia. He cemented his place there after one other 65 on Friday and a 66 on Saturday stored him in solo second each days and only one stroke behind Spieth.

It was on this relentless pursuit to remain sizzling on Spieth’s heels that Kokrak slowly started to disclose in his post-round interviews the latest adjustments and concentrated efforts that made this seemingly shocking second win a not-so-unexpected improvement.

On Thursday, Kokrak famous that he lately switched drivers to “an older setup” that he used to win final 12 months. Then Friday, the 6-foot-4 golfer advised a narrative about his putter: “About two years ago, my caddie … saw that I was holding the putter kind of in the base of my palm here, both hands weren’t completely on the putter. He said, ‘Don’t change anything, just go to a 36-inch putter,’ and that’s made all the difference. I’m able to stand up a little bit taller and more comfortable and it’s working.”

But additionally, taking observe that at one level he was ranked one hundred and ninetieth in placing however prime 5 in ball-striking, he’s spent extra time with the flat stick, and it’s paid off.

This all translated to some spectacular numbers on the stat pages, too: He led the sphere in birdies (23), Strokes Gained: Total (14.857), SG: Off-the-Tee (6.166) and Driving Distance (321.8), he ranked second in SG: Tee-to-Green (9.356) and GIR (54/72, 75 %). He completed seventh in SG: Putting (5.501).

Credit additionally went to his partnership with caddie David Robinson. “I’ve got to hand it to the Admiral,” mentioned Kokrak. “Ever since we got together four years ago, I called him up and said, ‘Listen, this is going a good ride. I’m a pretty good ball-striker, and you’re a great green reader and we’ll make a good duo.’”

Kokrak additionally capitalized on his consolation degree at Colonial. In six earlier begins, he’s made the minimize 4 occasions along with his greatest outcome coming in 2020 when he completed T-3.

“I tend to like tougher golf courses and I know it’s soft this week, … but I’m comfortable here,” he mentioned earlier within the week. “Food’s been great. People have always treated me nice. Always rented a house close by. I’ve just got good vibes for this golf course. You know, the putter the last two years has served me well, and I seem to read these greens pretty well.”

It was a unique story for 27-year-old Spieth, who took a “no excuses” strategy to his evaluation of Sunday’s 3-over 73, which included three straight bogeys on Nos. 2-4 and a disastrous 18th the place he caught a flier out of the appropriate tough that sailed into the water when he trailed Kokrak by a shot.

“I didn’t play well at all quite simply,” he mentioned. “I could have shot even par today and won the golf tournament, but from the very get-go, just a really bad start. And then tried to fight my way through it, but I was just really off with my golf swing. I really lost it this weekend. You just have to be in control around Colonial.”

The 2016 champion, looking for his thirteenth profession title and second of the season, couldn’t capitalize on the consolation or confidence he had the primary three rounds, when he opened with bogey-free rounds of 63-66. After taking pictures 66 on Saturday to equal his low 54-hole rating on the Tour (15-under 195), Spieth held the third-round lead or co-lead for the twentieth time in his profession and fourth time this season however dropped his conversion document to 10-for-20.

T-3 by no means felt so good

While the weekend at Colonial became principally a two-man occasion, some noteworthy performances by Charley Hoffman, Patton Kizzire, Sebastian Munoz and Ian Poulter lit up the leaderboard in a mini competitors for third place at 10 underneath.

Hoffman earned his second top-five end in Texas this season and drew consideration with a second-round, 8-under 62 that fell only one stroke shy of tying the course document however moved him up greater than 50 spots on the leaderboard after a first-round 71. After a 72 on Saturday, he rebounded with a six-birdie, one-bogey 65 on Sunday.

Kizzire shot 67-65-71-67 to document a second consecutive T-3 end following a T-3 at the Byron Nelson, whereas world No. 66 Poulter Ian Poulter (68-70-64-68) made 14 straight pars Sunday earlier than making birdie on three of his final 4 holes to assert his 51st top-10 end on Tour and third in eight begins at Colonial. Munoz, who missed the minimize in 2020 in his first Charles Schwab Challenge look, closed with a 2-under 68 to assert his third top-10 end of the season.

Phil’s quick exit, different notable misses

PGA champion Phil Mickelson made bogey on two of his final three holes and missed the minimize by a shot after taking pictures 73-69.

“You can’t play this course out of the rough because then you have tree trouble, which I had repeatedly, and I didn’t putt well,” he mentioned. “But I won the PGA, so …”

Mickelson admitted he couldn’t discover “the same kind of calm” that he had at Kiawah Island, however famous he can be taking the subsequent two weeks off in preparation for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in his hometown of San Diego.

Also making an early exit at Colonial was world No. 8 Patrick Reed (68-74), who bogeyed his ultimate gap on Friday to overlook the minimize by one, and sponsor exemption Michael Visacki (77-72), the Monday qualifier who went viral at the Valspar Championship.

Compton brings the feels, Piercy’s tough week will get worse

A bogey-free 65 on Thursday put two-time coronary heart transplant recipient Erik Compton into the combination, simply two strokes behind first-round leaders Spieth and Sergio Garcia. Playing on a sponsor’s exemption in what was simply his third PGA Tour begin since 2016, Compton made 5 birdies en path to his lowest rating on the PGA Tour since a 62 within the first spherical of the Wyndham Championship in 2015. He shot 68-70-73 to complete T-20.

“I mean, it’s hard to sum it up, but it’s a lot of work, and I’m a fighter, I’m a grinder,” mentioned Compton, who famous he lately celebrated the twenty ninth anniversary of his mixed transplants. “I put one foot in front of the other. I’m just blessed to be alive really. Spent most of my life with somebody else’s hearts. It’s a challenge, but I do the best that I can. …

“To be honest it’s really neat to see all the best players in the world again. As an older guy on the Korn Ferry Tour, I really don’t know a lot of the players, and out here it’s nice to see a lot of old friends and people asking me about my health and my family. My dream is to be back here and playing full-time again, make another run.”

Scott Piercy’s week made a run in the wrong way when he grew to become the third participant within the final 5 tournaments to signal an incorrect scorecard and was disqualified. It was additionally the third profession DQ for the 42-year-old in 324 occasions and second at this occasion (2009 debut). He shot 72-72 and would have missed the minimize anyway, however including insult to damage was the truth that he began the week on a disappointing observe when he narrowly missed out in U.S. Open qualifying at Dallas Athletic Club.

Piercy snapped his putter over his knee after reportedly lacking a brief birdie putt to win a 10-way playoff for the ultimate accessible ticket to Torrey Pines after which lacking one other quick putt to safe the alternate place. Ouch.

Next up: Memorial Tournament

World No. 3 Jon Rahm is about to defend his Memorial title subsequent week at a renovated Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, the place he appears to develop into the primary man to win back-to-back titles since Tiger Woods in 2001 (which was really Woods’ third consecutive title).

“The House That Jack Built” hosted two consecutive Tour occasions in 2020 previous to the overhaul, which began throughout the ultimate spherical of final 12 months’s occasion as turf was being lifted whereas the leaders had been on the again 9. The renovation contains reconstruction of the greens, the addition of greater than 140 timber and resurfaced tee packing containers, and the course can even play as much as 100 yards longer now.

FedExCup chief and 2018 winner Bryson DeChambeau will tee it up together with World No. 2 Justin Thomas, No. 5 Collin Morikawa, No. 6 Xander Schauffele, Reed, No. 9 Rory McIlroy and previous champions Patrick Cantlay, Jason Dufner and William McGirt. Sponsor exemptions embrace Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington, who lately completed fourth at the PGA Championship, and main champions Vijay Singh and Danny Willett.

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