PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka began The Players Championship wondering if his wrist would allow him to play. He finished it Sunday with an albatross on the par-5 16th hole and a 9-under 63 to tie the course record.
Koepka had 208 yards on the 16th hole when he opted for a three-quarter shot with his 6-iron. It started a little more right than he wanted, right on line. The ball took one hop and disappeared into the cup for a 2.
It was the second albatross in two years on the 16th hole at the TPC Sawgrass.
"I couldn't tell where it hopped," Koepka said. "Everyone started screaming. The roars kept going, so we figured it went in. It was a hell of a shot."
That wasn't all.
He followed with a wedge into 4 feet on the island-green 17th for birdie — Koepka hit two in the water on the par-3 17th on Friday to make quadruple-bogey 7. And then he narrowly missed a 12-foot birdie chance on the final hole for the record.
As for his wrist?
"It feels better after a 63," Koepka said.
He missed nearly four months early this year from a partially torn tendon in his left wrist. On the eve of The Players Championship, Koepka felt a pop in his left wrist when he forcefully stopped his swing at full velocity upon seeing a cart zip out in front of players on the back of the range.
He wasn't sure he was going to play until a few minutes before his tee times.
And then he finished on a high note, becoming the eighth player — and second this week — to post a 63 on the Stadium Course. Webb Simpson, who had a seven-shot lead going into the final round, had a 63 on Friday.
It was the sixth round of 63 since 2013, and the second time in the past three years that two players shot 63 in the same week.
Koepka didn't have a lot to lose. He started the final round 17 shots out of the lead.
"What are you going to do? It's like you just stay where you are in 60th place or you start moving up," he said. "Today was the day."
Koepka said he was joking with his caddie that he had not had a short birdie putt since he returned to competition two tournaments ago and he was due. A few holes later, he hit an approach to 4 feet on 14. And then on the 16, he didn't have to putt at all.
"If you're going to talk about it, you might as well do it," he said.
Koepka said he kept his wrist in ice after each round this week. He is taking off next week.