Koepka defends LIV Jeddah title in play-off

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia: Brooks Koepka defended his LIV Golf Jeddah title on Sunday, beating his American compatriot Talor Gooch in a play-off.

Despite losing out on the day at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club the 31-year-old Gooch walked away with the individual season title.

Gooch fired a final round eight-under par 62, forcing the play-off after runaway leader after the first two rounds Koepka shot a 68.

Koepka was struggling on the greens and was even par through 15 holes.

However, he made a 30-footer birdie putt on the par-3 16th when he needed it, and closed with another on the par-5 18th to catch up with the bogey-free Gooch.

In the play-off, after tying at 14-under par, the duo made birdies on the first extra hole, before Gooch dumped his second shot into the water to the left of the 18th green the second time.

Apart from claiming the US$4 million winner's cheque, Koepka also knocked Bryson DeChambeau out of third place in the season-long individual standings, earning another US$4 million bonus for finishing third.

Gooch picked up the US$18 million bonus as overall individual champion. Australia's Cameron Smith was second and received a bonus of US$8 million.

Koepka, who was involved in a three-hole play-off with Peter Uihlein last year, said: "It's been fantastic.

"Anytime you can win, it's always a good feeling. Super proud of the way I played today. Felt like I was hitting good putts, they just weren't falling, and then it was just a matter of being patient and hanging in there."

Gooch, a three-time winner on LIV Golf this season, said: "It's awesome. From January 1 until now, that's what we've been working for, so to get here and to be the champion... I'm proud, I'm honoured, and I'm excited.

"I was as nervous as I could be all night last night and this morning. We got to the first tee and I knocked it on the green, made a 30-footer, and I just settled in. It was a very stressful day, very exciting day, but my caddie and I just did a great job of staying in the moment and just executing."

In an exciting battle to avoid relegation and secure their cards for 2024, Zimbabwean Scott Vincent (12-under) climbed to 22nd place with a tied third finish, which secures his playing privileges for 2024.

Austrian Bernd Wiesberger also made a big move in the final round.

A seven-under par 63 took him inside the Open Zone (25th to 44th in the overall standings), making him eligible for trade and transfer in the 2024 season.

Jeddah was the last event of the regular LIV Golf season. It is followed next week by the US$50 million Team Championship in Miami.

Sergio Garcia's Fireballs won the team title in Jeddah, but the Bubba Watson-led RangeGoats gained the most by virtue of their second-place finish as they displaced the all-South African Stingers from the top-four.

Crushers, leading after the second day, dropped to fifth after a disappointing final round.

That meant the all-American team 4Aces will be the top seed and Crushers second in Miami. The top four teams receive a bye in the quarter-finals on Friday. --AFP

Most Popular
Related Article
Says Stories