Brooks Koepka cruises to first WGC title as Rory McIlroy struggles on final day
Koepka's bogey-free 65 propels him to his first WGC title, while McIlroy laboured to a 71 to finish five shots behind his rival.
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 29/07/19 6:24am
Brooks Koepka consolidated his status as world No 1 with a classy victory at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational as Rory McIlroy suffered more final-round frustration in Memphis.
McIlroy led by one overnight after his sensational third-round 62, but he did not come close to matching the heights of his Saturday performance while Koepka ran out a convincing three-shot winner after a bogey-free 65 earned him his first World Golf Championship silverware.
Koepka had to scramble to avoid bogeys on the first two holes as McIlroy began with two cast-iron pars, but the Northern Irishman then failed to match Koepka's birdie on the long third when he missed from inside four feet.
McIlroy continued to grind out the pars and found himself trailing by two shots when Koepka converted a superb approach to the fifth before finding the cup from 20 feet for another gain at the sixth which lifted him to 14 under par.
Koepka extended his lead with another birdied from inside 10 feet to start the back-nine, and McIlroy's race was effectively run when he dumped a wedge into a greenside bunker at the 12th and was unable to get up-and-down.
The world No 1 again completed clutch par saves at 14 and 15 as McIlroy revived his slim title hopes with a welcome birdie at the short 14th, but a pulled three-wood into rough at the next left him with no shot to the green and, after pitching back out to the fairway, McIlroy wedged to 10 feet and the par putt was short of pace.
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Webb Simpson suddenly emerged as Koepka's biggest threat when he fired a 64 to set the clubhouse target at 13 under, but the leader remained unruffled and atoned for missing out on a birdie at the par-five 16th when he rattled in a 12-foot putt for his fifth birdie of the day at the penultimate hole.
Koepka closed out his seventh PGA Tour victory, including four majors, with a rock-solid par at the last to post a winning score of 16 under par, three clear of Simpson in second, while a disconsolate McIlroy completed a 71 which left him five off the pace.
Marc Leishman vaulted into outright third on 12 under after an adventurous 67 which featured five birdies and two bogeys on the back nine after nine straight pars on the front, while McIlroy had to settle for a share of fourth with English duo Tommy Fleetwood and halfway leader Matt Fitzpatrick.
Two late birdies helped Fleetwood close with a 66 just a week after finishing runner-up to Shane Lowry at The 148th Open, while Fitzpatrick salvaged a 69 with a stunning eagle at 16, where he drilled a 245-yard second to two feet in an impressive response to back-to-back bogeys at the 13th and 14th.
Jon Rahm and Ian Poulter both fired 69s to earn top-10 finishes and valuable FedExCup points, while Justin Rose just missed out on another top-10 after a double-bogey at 17 took the gloss off his 68 as he closed on seven under par.