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Beating Rory McIlroy makes WGC win even more special, says world number one Brooks Koepka

The American’s bogey-free round was enough to overcome a lacklustre finish from his playing partner.

Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka's love for one another is not at risk.
Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka's love for one another is not at risk.

Brooks Koepka says his three-shot victoryat the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational was even more special for having managed to overhaul 54-hole leader Rory McIlroy.

The duo played together in Sunday's final pairing, McIlroy starting with a one shot advantage.

However, Koepka's five under par 65 blew McIlroy, who could only card a one over 71, and the rest of the field away.

"It feels really good. This place has always been really special to me and to win here is really nice," said Koepka, who was once again helped to victory by his Portrush caddy Ricky Elliott.

"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 least 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 bogeys 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. I've been playing so well of late.”

It's the seventh time McIlroy has failed to break 70 in the final round of his 13 PGA Tour events so far this season and left him in a tie for fourth behind Webb Simpson, who shot the round of the day at six under, and Marc Leishman.

McIlroy's advantage evaporated early on day four as Koepka joined him at the top of the leaderboard after firing a birdie on the par-five third hole to grab a share of the lead.

The Northern Irishman made par on every hole on the front nine but found himself two shots behind Koepka at the turn after the four-time major winner’s back-to-back birdies at five and six.

McIlroy was by then joint second with Simpson, who was playing five holes ahead of the final pair and made a flying start with an eagle on the par-five third.

Koepka extended his lead with another birdie on the 10th before McIlroy’s challenge faded with his first dropped shot of the day at the 12th.

Another bogey on the par-four 15th left McIlroy on 11 under and four shots behind Koepka. The Northern Irishman had now been overtaken on the leaderboard by Simpson and Leishman and was tied for fourth spot with Tommy Fleetwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick, which was how he would finish.

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Webb Simpson surged into second place (Mark Humphrey/AP)

Five birdies between the 10th and 16th holes had put Leishman in contention but the Australian gave two back with bogeys at 13 and 15.

Koepka maintained his three-shot advantage to clinch the title with a bogey-free round to finish on 16 under.

PA

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