Rory McIlroy struggled to contain his frustration as he was no match for playing partner Brooks Koepka at the WGC-St. Jude Invitational in Memphis.
Koepka posted a five-under-par 65 on Sunday to claim another big tournament win while McIlroy could only manage a one-over 71 to finish five back at 11 under par in a tie for fourth – the seventh time he has failed to break 70 in the final round of his 13 PGA Tour events so far this season.
After the heartbreak of missing the cut in The Open Championship at Royal Portrush, McIlroy looked to bounce back with a victory to ease his pain and he appeared to be in prime position as he headed into the final round with a lead.
Yet he was no match for world No.1 Koepka, as McIloy’s final round of 71 saw him finish five behind champion Koepka, who strolled to victory in classy fashion.
Koepka’s final round allowed him to finish three ahead of his American compatriot Webb Simpson, with Australia’s Marc Leishman in third and England’s Tommy Fleetwood also finishing ahead of McIlroy.
It was a familiar tale for the Irishman, who has struggled to convert promising positions into tournaments wins throughout 2019, with his win The Players Championship in March and at the Canadian Open last month high points in a season of near misses.
Poor putting was at the heart of McIlroy’s woes as he managed to card just one birdie in a round that failed to catch fire, with Koepka confirming his status as the best player in the world with another immaculate display.
“It feels really good. This place has always been really special to me and to win here is really nice,” Koepka told Sky Sports.
“I managed to get a few putts in early and wanted to get ahead of Rory. It’s always fun to battle Rory and it’s very pleasing to say the lease to come out on top. He is a true competitor and to come out on top against him was special.
“The goal was to make no bogies and I have managed to do that, so it was really pleasing. I was putting the ball in the correct spot and overall, I’m very pleased.”
McIlroy’s annoyance was in evidence throughout his round and he looked angry and vented his frustrations at the 16th hole as his approach shot plugged in the green side bunker.
After his tearful exit from The Open, McIlroy looked jaded as he walked off the 18th green contemplating another missed opportunity.
“It feels really good. I knew I had to make some putts and to catch up with Rory by nine would be big,” Koepka said.
“I played really solid. The goal was to make no bogeys and I came out bogey free so I’m really pleased.
“To win this title against Rory was pretty special.”
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