SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – With an eagle putt that looked as long as his golf journey around the world, Brooks Koepka surged into the lead and stayed there Sunday with a 5-under 66 to capture the Phoenix Open for his first PGA Tour victory.
Lingering for most of the final round, Koepka holed a 50-foot eagle putt from the fringe on the 15th hole and didn't make any mistakes the rest of the way.
The victory ended a long, arduous road for the 24-year-old from Florida. With no status in America, Koepka played the Challenge Tour in such faraway lands as Kazakhstan and Kenya, winning four times to earn his European Tour card and then validating his status as a rising star by winning the Turkish Open last year.
But winning at home was the strongest validation.
"It feels amazing," Koepka said after his one-shot win over Hideki Matsuyama, Masters champion Bubba Watson and Ryan Palmer.
Of the five players who had a share of the lead in a wild final hour at the TPC Scottsdale, Matsuyama had the last chance to catch Koepka until his 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole missed well to the right.
Martin Laird, who had a three-shot lead going into the final round, was tied with Koepka going to the 17th until he sprayed it well right into the gallery on the short par-4 hole and made bogey, and then pulled his tee shot into the water on the 18th and made double bogey. He closed with a 72.
Palmer shared the lead with a birdie on the 15th, but he had to settle for pars the rest of the way for a 66. So did Watson, who reached the front of the 17th green only to three-putt from just over 100 feet and made par. He closed with a 65.
Matsuyama took the lead with a beautiful pitch behind the green on the par-5 13th. He went 44 consecutive holes without a bogey until Matsuyama three-putted on the 14th hole, and he never recovered. He shot 67.
The victory Sunday, which was his second in his last four starts, should put Koepka at No. 19 in the world.
Koepka had not played since the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa two months ago, taking a full month away from his clubs and working hard over the past few weeks after a change to his putting stroke.
Back-to-back birdies near the end of the front nine kept him in range. A solid chip from behind the 13th green for a 4-foot birdie kept him within two shots of Matsuyama. And his fortunes changed mightily with his eagle putt on the 15th.
The Florida State alumnus had plenty of adrenaline pumping on the 17th hole when he hit 3-wood on the 322-yard hole onto the green and over the back. It came to rest on the red hazard line, a foot from going into the water. He chipped to about 12 feet and missed the birdie putt.
And with the pressure of holding a one-shot lead as he went after his first PGA Tour win, Koepka smashed his drive 331 yards down the middle of the fairway.