PGA Tour: Justin Thomas takes WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational title after battle with Brooks Koepka

Justin Thomas with the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational title

A review of the action at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis, where Justin Thomas triumphed after being run close by Brooks Koepka.


Leaderboard

-13 Thomas

-10 Koepka, Berger, Lewis, Mickelson

-9 Schauffele, Day, Lowry, Reavie, Oosthuizen, Fitzpatrick

-8 Johnson, Simpson, Hun An


Final round report

Justin Thomas: WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational winner in final-round action at Southwind

Justin Thomas won the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational after a battle down the closing stretch with fellow major winner Brooks Koepka.

The American pair pulled clear on a previously crowded leaderboard on the back nine but it was the 2017 US PGA champion who triumphed with a five-under-par final round of 65 in Memphis.

That left him 13 under, three clear of the field for his third win of the season as four-time major winner Koepka double-bogeyed the last.

England’s Tom Lewis came up just short in his charge for a remarkable victory.

Maintaining the momentum after his stunning course record-equalling 61 at TPC Southwind on Saturday, the 29-year-old from Welwyn Garden City picked up five birdies on the front nine and at one point was in a five-way tie for the lead before twice dropping shots as Thomas and Koepka pulled clear.

Lewis, who opened his tournament with a three-over-par 73, began the day six strokes behind overnight leader Brendon Todd in a share of 10th place.

Yet while Todd started slowly with a run of seven pars before bogeying the eighth, Lewis powered on with four consecutive birdies from the third and another at the ninth.

Thomas, who had been four strokes back in fifth overnight, made his move with four birdies on the front nine to climb to 12 under and overtake Todd.

Koepka, who will bid to win a third successive US PGA Championship next week, kept himself firmly in the picture with birdies at the first and ninth and was 11 under after nine.

He briefly hit the front with a birdie at 13 after Thomas bogeyed 12, but made a costly bogey at 16 as Thomas produced back-to-back birdies.

Koepka’s superb birdie putt at the 17th set up a chance of a dramatic finish but he found water off the final tee, allowing Thomas to close out victory with a par.

Phil Mickelson and Daniel Berger were also in the group at 10 under, while Open champion Shane Lowry and Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick finished a further shot back in a six-way tie for sixth.

South Korea’s Byeong-Hun An and American Rickie Fowler, second and third after Saturday’s play, fell back to eight and seven under respectively.

World number one Jon Rahm was well out of contention but carded a final-round 66 to move to one over. Tommy Fleetwood finished with a 65, his best round of the week, to finish under par on minus three.


Round three report

Brendon Todd leads the way in Memphis

Brendon Todd will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Classic after a tenacious 69 on Saturday.

Despite having Rickie Fowler snapping at his heels and finding water with a shocking tee-shot on the 14th hole, Todd kept responding and signed for a one-under par round despite missing a chance at the last.

Fowler endured a frustrating finish, missing putts at the 16th and 17th holes before a scrambled par at the last kept him three off his compatriot and in third.

Byeong Hun An, still seeking his first PGA Tour title, is a shot ahead of Fowler on 11-under, with Brooks Koepka in fourth place after rallying brilliantly following a nightmare start to round three.

As Koepka doubled the second for the second day running, Todd rolled in a 14-foot putt at the first and after adding another birdie from 22 feet at the eighth, he made the turn in one-under and still atop the leaderboard.

Fowler joined him in the lead with a three-under front nine and was in fact alone in front heading to the 11th, but the former Players champion saw his magic touch on the greens disappear during a two-over back-nine.

With Todd playing the same stretch in level, Koepka was able to play his way back into the tournament with four birdies in a row from the ninth, followed by further steps forward at the 14th and 16th holes.

The defending champion gave one back at the tough 17th, but so too did Todd and Fowler in the group behind and, from three off the pace, he remains right in the thick of things.

Justin Thomas birdied holes 15, 16 and 17 to move into fifth, one back of Koepka and five off the lead, with 50-year-old Phil Mickelson part of a share of sixth which includes England's Matt Fitzpatrick.

Open champion Shane Lowry is tied for 10th on six-under after a round of 67 but Rory McIlroy is tied for 53rd after a disappointing 73.

Round two report

Brendon Todd set the pace on day two of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational as defending champion Brooks Koepka slipped off the pace.

Koepka carded a superb 62 to take a two-stroke lead after the opening day at TPC Southwind in Memphis but could only add a one-over-par second round of 71 to finish seven under, four behind.

Todd, who won back-to-back starts on the PGA Tour in November last year, carded five birdies in a bogey-free 65 to reach 11 under par after tee times were brought forward in anticipation of bad weather later in the day.

The world number 51 told PGA Tour Live: “I just grinded really hard. I had to make some clutch par saves early on in both rounds and I was able to make them.

“I’m seeing the lines really good on the greens. I committed to a warm-up plan this week on the practice green and it’s starting to pay off, so I’m putting really well so far.

“The wind was down just a little bit today. There were a couple of pins I think that were more difficult on one, 14 and 16, so there were some birdie opportunities, but you still have to place the ball in the right area and make some putts.”

Koepka, who has recorded just one top-10 finish since the end of August last year and has been struggling with a knee injury, started on the back nine and picked up his first birdie of the day from nine feet on the 11th before lipping out for another birdie from similar distance on the next.

Ahead of his bid to become the first player to win three straight US PGA titles since it became a strokeplay event in 1958, Koepka picked up another shot on the 18th but then ran up a double bogey on the second, coming up short of the green from a fairway bunker and then three-putting from three feet.

A birdie on the sixth was sandwiched between two bogeys and left Koepka with work to do to successfully defend his title.

“I thought I putted good on the back nine, just misread a few, and then on the front just really didn’t hit any good putts,” Koepka said.

Round one report

Brooks Koepka is the defending St Jude Invitational champion

Defending champion Brooks Koepka fired a superb eight-under par 62 to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the St Jude Invitational in Memphis on Thursday.

The four-time major winner, tipped at 33/1 by Ben Coley, shot six birdies, with four coming in his first four holes, against one bogey on the front nine before picking up three more birdies in a strong back nine to record his equal-lowest total on the PGA Tour.

The stunning round signals a return to form for Koepka, who has only had one top-10 finish in 10 starts either side of the coronavirus shutdown and has missed the cut in two of his last three appearances.

He led from fellow Americans Rickie Fowler and Brendon Todd, the former ending with a bogey in an otherwise impressive round as he too seeks a return to form.

125/1 Louis Oosthuizen and 22/1 Xander Schauffele are in contention at two-under, with 80/1 tip Sungjae Im a shot ahead of the pair.

Rory McIlroy made a poor start, the world number two shooting a three-over 73.

His day was summed up on the 14th, where he turned a decent birdie chance into a three-putt bogey. Then three wayward tee shots led to three consecutive bogeys on the front nine before he at least finished the day on a positive note, making his first birdie at seven and finding another from outside 20 feet at the last, although that merely got him within 11 strokes of the leader.

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell was the best-placed UK player, a two-under 68 leaving him in a share of 15th place along with Ireland’s Shane Lowry, just over a year on from his Open Championship success.

Koepka made a blistering start by birdying his first four holes, including a 23-foot putt for a two at the fourth.

A drive into the trees and a missed putt gave him a bogey five at the seventh, but he atoned with successive birdies to finish his outward nine.

Among the English players, Danny Willett was seven off the pace after a one-under 69, Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a 70, Paul Casey a 71, and Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Wallace and Tyrrell Hatton had 72s.

The second round will begin four hours earlier than scheduled due to the threat of bad weather in Memphis.

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read