PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — After watching what Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth did on Saturday morning at TPC Sawgrass, Sunday’s morning wave at the Players Championship had a tough act to follow. Brooks Koepka did his best to top the final-round power pairing by himself by flirting with history, a common theme this week.
After carding a four-under 32 on the front nine, the reigning U.S. Open champion cooled off on the back, making four straight pars before grabbing his fifth birdie of the day at the par-4 14th. Following a par at No. 15, Koepka’s 307-yard drive at the par-5 16th left him 208 yards to the hole, and he pulled out a 6-iron and produced the shot of the week:
“To be honest with you I wasn’t aiming at the flag,” Koepka said afterward. “I was aiming about 15 feet left and I kind of pushed it a little bit. It’s fine.”
Koepka’s one-hopper is just the fourth albatross in Players history, with two of the previous three coming in 2007, when Hunter Mahan made one in the second round at the par-5 11th with a 5-iron from 227 yards, and Peter Lonard made his in the third round with a 5-iron from 229 yards at the par-5 second. The most recent came in last year’s final round, when Rafa Cabrera Bello hit a 182-yard 8-iron that took a miraculous kick and found the bottom of the cup for the first-ever albatross at the par-5 16th hole.
Koepka, who just returned from a wrist injury, went on to make birdie at the par-3 17th and had a 12-foot look for birdie to break the course record at the 18th, but missed to “settle” a nine-under 63, matching the course record shot by seven others including Webb Simpson on Friday. Koepka finished his round in a tie for third at 11-under 277, still eight strokes back of Simpson but not bad after starting the round 17 back.
“I was just trying to fire at every flag,” Koepka said. “Wrist felt alright this morning. … It was pretty cool the way I finished. I’ll take it.”