MEMPHIS – The world’s No. 1 golfer, Brooks Koepka, overtook Rory McIlroy early and then cruised to the finish on Sunday at TPC Southwind, winning by three strokes at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Tennessee.
Paired with McIlroy and trailing by one entering the day, Koepka shot bogey-free, 5-under 65 to finish at 16-under 264 for the tournament. It was Koepka’s seventh career PGA Tour victory, including his third this season, and also marked his first WGC title.
“It’s so special,” Koepka told CBS afterward on the broadcast. “… It gives me chills, even thinking about it. It’s been one of my favorite stops for four or five years on Tour now. To win here, this is really special to me.”
Koepka had come close before at TPC Southwind, tying for third in 2015 and second in 2016 at the St. Jude Classic. He had also threatened for other wins in recent events, taking second at the U.S. Open in June and tying for fourth at The Open Championship last week.
With the victory, he collected 550 FedExCup points, extending his lead to 572 points over McIlroy (2,887 to 2,315).
Webb Simpson (who shot 64) claimed second alone at 13 under, with Australia’s Marc Leishman (67) in third at 12 under.
McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, shot 1-over 71, a day after scorching the course for a round of 62. He finished at 11 under, in a tie with Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood (66) and Matthew Fitzpatrick (69) for fourth.
With McIlroy struggling to make birdies, Koepka made his move early. He gained a share of the lead with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 third, then stuck his tee shot at the par-3 fifth inside of five feet. After burying the short putt, he rolled in a 20-footer at No. 6 for back-to-back birdies and a two-stroke lead.
McIlroy opened with 11 straight pars before breaking the string with a bogey at the 12th. By that point, He was four strokes back of Koepka, who had birdied No. 10. McIlroy finally made birdie at the 14th, only to give the stroke back with a bogey at 15.
Despite the disappointment, McIlroy has a Tour-best 12 top-10 finishes in 16 starts this year.
Simpson used an eagle at No. 3 to start his move, then ran off four birdies in a bogey-free back nine, but he never threatened Koepka.
Defending champion Justin Thomas shot 71 and finished in a tie for 12th at 6 under.