McIlroy fails to ignite as Koepka is the king in Memphis
Northern Irishman started final round with a one shot lead but finished five behind
Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the fifth hole during the final round of the World Golf Championship-FedEx St Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images
It was billed as a battle between the world number three and the world number one for the final round at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis but the truth was that the number three - Rory McIlroy - never really showed up as Brooks Koepka cruised to a three shot victory at 16 under par after a final round of 65.
McIlroy, meanwhile, could only manage a one over par 71 to finish five back at 11 under par in a tie for fourth - the seventh time he has failed to break 70 in the final round of his 13 PGA Tour events so far this season.
McIlroy began the day with a one shot lead over Koepka at 12 under after a scintillating 62 on Saturday which went a long way towards exorcising the demons of last week’s British Open missed cut at Portrush.
Despite last week’s disappointment, this has been McIlroy’s most consistent season of his career with the finish in Memphis adding up to his 12th top-10 in 16 events so far.
However, top-10s are not what McIlroy is judged on and he was caught as early as the Par 5 third when Koepka managed a birdie four while McIlroy, after a lovely pitch from a downslope to the left of the green, pulled his four foot birdie putt left and had to settle for a par.
And the world number one continued to set his stall out early at TPC Southwind when he sent his approach to kick-in distance at the fifth before adding a third birdie of the round at the sixth to move to 14 under and two clear of McIlroy who couldn’t get off a run of pars as the birdie putts slipped past. In the first three rounds McIlroy had been 10th, 16th and first in strokes gained putting but that form abandoned him on Sunday.
At the 10th the trend continued as Koepka rolled in another birdie putt to move to 15 under while McIlroy, after a poor approach over the back of the green, could only manage a 10th consecutive par to slip three behind.
Another birdie putt slipped past at the 11th and then, at the 12th, the par run broke but not in the way McIlroy wanted as he failed to get up and down from a back bunker, slipping to a bogey five and four behind Koepka.
A first birdie of the day at the Par 3 14th gave McIlroy a brief flicker of hope but that was quickly extinguished at the 15th as he gave that shot straight back with a bogey while Koepka saved his par from 15 feet.
That, in essence, summed up a frustrating day for McIlroy who could only manage three closing pars as Koepka strolled to victory with a birdie at the 17th sealing the deal.