South Korea’s K.H. Lee appeared to have discovered the important thing to his breakthrough victory on the PGA Tour on Sunday at the AT&T Bryon Nelson due to a successful mixture of a change in angle, a change in putters and a constant dream of constructing it to the winner’s circle.
The 29-year-old Lee additionally survived a two-hour, 23-minute curveball courtesy of Mother Nature as heavy rains and lightning halted play on Sunday with the leaders on the sixteenth inexperienced. Despite making bogey when play resumed, Lee rebounded to complete birdie-birdie and prevail by three strokes over Sam Burns to turn out to be the third South Korean participant to win the Texas occasion together with defending champion Sung Kang and 2013 winner Sang-Moon Bae.
“Long day for me, I think for everybody,” mentioned Lee, who was greeted at 18 following his win by Kang and K.J. Choi, to whom Lee affectionately known as “Big Daddy.” “I just try to keep patient and positive thinking.”
Lee started the match as a +15000 longshot however opened with back-to-back scores of 65. He adopted that up with a bogey-free, 5-under 67 on Saturday put him one stroke behind 54-hole chief Burns, who not too long ago secured his first career Tour win at the Valspar Championship two weeks in the past. Lee vaulted into the lead due to a red-hot entrance 9 that featured 5 birdies and a lone bogey. His 25-under, 263 complete set the document for lowest 72-hole rating to par at the Byron Nelson since 1983 (beforehand 23-under par).
“I mean, so excited now and long time wait this situation, so I’m very thankful and excited,” mentioned Lee, who admitted he usually dreamt of successful on Tour however “almost forgot everything” upon lastly doing so. “Unbelievable feeling now. … With my wife, it’s my wife pregnant, so left two months, so I can’t wait — two months — so everything is so thankful and excited.”
Lee, whose previous-best Tour end was a T-2 at this yr’s Phoenix Open in February, credited his sturdy iron play all through the week but in addition a change in putters, placing an Odyssey Toulon San Diego blade-style putter into play not too long ago. It labored: He carded 28 birdies — second-most within the subject — towards simply three bogeys over 72 holes and was sixth in putts-per-green in regulation in addition to ninth in Strokes Gained: Putting. He additionally ranked second in SG: Approach and picked up greater than eight pictures on the sector whereas hitting 58 of 72 greens (80.56 %), which tied for fifth.
He additionally had the assistance of a bit of insider data of TPC Craig Ranch, which was internet hosting the occasion for the first time, due to caddie Brett Waldman, who performed the course in 2010 throughout PGA Tour Q-School.
The victory marked Lee’s fifth skilled win (two wins in Japan, two in Korea) and moved him to No. 29 within the FedExCup standings. The expectant father is projected to interrupt the highest 60 within the Official World Golf Rankings as effectively. He earns a customary two-year exemption on Tour in addition to a spot in subsequent week’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.
Spieth posts sturdy exhibiting
Jordan Spieth recorded his career greatest end at his hometown occasion, ending T-9 (63-70-66-71=270, 18-under) for his seventh top-10 end in his final 9 begins and his fourth consecutive high 10.
Spieth grabbed a share of the 18-hole lead with a scorching 63 on Thursday, his first match spherical because the remaining spherical of the Masters. The three-time main winner revealed to media early within the week that he contracted COVID-19 following Augusta, which compelled an unplanned, month-long break.
However, the Dallas native confirmed minimal indicators of rust and performed the par-5 holes in 11-under par for the week, highlighted by first- and third-round eagles at No. 18. He struggled barely on Sunday together with his putter (30 on the day), however he hit 8 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens.
“Today was a little disappointing,” he mentioned following his spherical. “It just was tough. What a battle. We don’t normally get rain in Texas without electricity very often, and so that was definitely a test, but it was fun. I thought the tournament was great out here, and after having a month off just kind of coming out and hitting a lot of good shots, picking back up where I left off, was a big confidence boost.”
Not so nice Day
World No. 62 Jason Day missed his third straight minimize after capturing 70-69=139 to overlook by a stroke. Day struggled together with his putter on Thursday and hit solely 5 of 14 fairways on Friday, however what put the 33-year-old Australian within the headlines this week was information he’ll skip qualifying for the U.S. Open if he doesn’t make it in by way of the world rankings (the highest 60 on May 24 and June 7 earn automated invites).
“I’m not going to qualify – I’ve got to earn my way into that spot,” Day advised reporters on Wednesday. “It’s nothing against qualifying for a tournament. It’s just that in my mind, I’ve got to earn it. … It’s interesting to be in this situation. To be honest, I’m totally content where I am right now. I’m here for a reason. What do I need to do to get out of it and push forward and get my ranking back where it needs to be?”
Complicating the scenario is that Day’s spouse, Ellie, is anticipating their fourth little one inside weeks. Day is now 10-for-17 on cuts made this season with two top-10 outcomes (T-7 at Pebble Beach, T-7 at Houston Open). The 2015 PGA Championship winner can have one other shot to enhance his rankings subsequent week at Kiawah Island after dropping to No. 65 together with his missed minimize at the Nelson.
Keopka ‘dramatically better’ however nonetheless struggling
World No. 12 Brooks Koepka introduced his proper knee was “dramatically better” forward of his begin at TPC Craig Ranch, his first since lacking the minimize at the Masters, however he shot 71-70=141 to overlook out on weekend motion by three strokes.
Koepka, who had surgical procedure on his proper knee March 16 to take care of a kneecap dislocation and ligament harm, advised media Wednesday that he’s in a “completely new place now” however admitted he’s not fully again to regular: he nonetheless can’t squat absolutely to learn putts and infrequently doesn’t load on his proper aspect all through the swing together with his longer golf equipment.
“Months ahead of schedule,” he mentioned, “so it’s just nice to be back out and being able to play golf and actually hit shots that I want to hit, unlike I was doing at Augusta.”
Despite the struggles this season, the 31-year-old Koepka is 6-for-11 on the season with 4 top-10 outcomes together with a victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He notched the win in Phoenix regardless of coming into the occasion off three straight missed cuts and adopted it up with a T-2 at the WGC-Workday Championship two weeks later.
Next up: PGA Championship
The Tour heads east to Kiawah Island for the second main in 2021, the PGA Championship. Collin Morikawa will look to defend his first-ever main at the positioning of Rory McIlroy’s historic 2012 victory at the Ocean Course.
McIlroy, whose eight-shot win at Kiawah in 2012 is the biggest successful margin in PGA Championship historical past, arrives off a “W” at the Wells Fargo Championship in his final begin. Meanwhile, Morikawa additionally is available in already a winner this yr, having captured the WGC-Workday Championship title in February.
Also within the subject… Spieth will make his fifth begin within the occasion and goals to finish the career Grand Slam at the PGA, the lone main that has eluded him to date. Rickie Fowler will look to finish a chronic slide after receiving a particular exemption from the PGA of America. Two-time champion Koepka (2018, 2019) will look to increase his minimize streak to 9, whereas 2017 champion Justin Thomas appears to be like enhance his streak to 6.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who withdrew from the Byron Nelson as a result of ongoing discomfort together with his surgically repaired left knee, will make his first begin since a T-48 end two weeks in the past at the Valspar Championship. “I am not pleased about this situation, as I was really looking forward to playing this week,” he mentioned in a press release. Johnson, who completed T-2 at final yr’s PGA and solo second in 2019, has completed exterior the highest 25 in 5 of his final six begins.