Jason Kokrak admitted his second PGA Tour victory came harder than the first but he was only delighted to be able to spoil the home party and upset tournament favourite Jordan Spieth at the Charles Schwab Challenge on Sunday.
Kokrak went into the final round trailing his Texan playing partner by a single stroke but the pair were all square making the turn for home. Kokrak then poured the pressure on with birdies at 11 and 13 before both players bogeyed the 15th. The lead was reduced to one when Kokrak failed to get up and down from the greenside bunker on 16 and with both players parring 17, it was left to Spieth to find something down the 72nd to give the home crowd what they wanted.
He needed to be aggressive with his approach down the last but Spieth’s ball lost all control coming out of the right rough, flying through the green and into the water. It meant a closing bogey for Spieth, a three-over final round 73 and a 12-over tally, thus alleviating the pressure on Kokrak who found the final green in reg and two-putted for his second win of the season, a two-shot triumph over Spieth and the partisan crowd at Fort Worth.
“Yeah, it was obvious. A couple of comments I didn’t appreciate coming down the stretch, but naturally you’re going to pull for the hometown kid,” Kokrak said. “I appreciate it. I appreciate the gamesmanship. Jordan was amazing all day. He’s a true champion and he’s won multiple times and is an incredible player. I’m glad to be standing victorious above a guy that’s so good.
“I don’t know if it motivated me or not but I told myself like the last time I would be, just stay patient, one shot at a time.
“That sounds like everybody else, but you know, you can’t get ahead of yourself in this game. This game doesn’t owe you anything, and you know, you take each shot for what it is, whether you make a bogey or a par or a birdie. Each hole is an individual match against yourself, and Jordan was there the whole day. He was up a couple, down a couple, and I made my mistakes. He made his mistakes. I tried to stay patient. I made a couple nice birdies and a couple nice putts on the front to get back to even.
“Started to hit the ball better through the middle of the round. A couple hiccups there. I missed 2 with an 8-iron. But things like that when you’re in heat are going to happen.”
It’s another chance gone a-begging for Dallas boy Spieth around Colonial but in a typically honest assessment, the three-time Major winner wasn’t about to make any excuses for his Sunday shortcomings.
“I didn’t play well at all quite simply,” Spieth said. “I could have shot even par today and won the golf tournament but from the very get-go, just a really bad start, and then tried to fight my way through it. But I was just really off with my golf swing. I really lost it this weekend. You just have to be in control around Colonial.”
England’s Ian Poulter topped the European challenge, coming through the field with weekend rounds of 64 and 68 to tie third at 10-under.
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