Brooks Koepka hit a putt that dropped in the hole for the only birdie on the 16th hole Sunday, leading him to victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
The driving rain and swirling winds blew Koepka’s drive in the water on the par-4 sixth hole. He played in the worst group with Francesco Molinari and Charley Hoffman and shot a 6-over 75.
U.S. Open champion Koepka played his final 15 holes in 6 under in relief and a one-shot victory over fellow PGA Tour rookie Bryson DeChambeau. DeChambeau shot 69 on a wet, windy day at Bay Hill that produced not a birdie in 15 holes on the front nine.
“I just wanted to spank him a little bit, a little bit to let him know how the way we were driving the ball today,” Koepka said of DeChambeau. “I was like, `Guys, we are going to drive the ball pretty far.’ But the funny thing was, on that drive, it went right to the left a little bit. So I thought, `Yeah, hopefully he’ll have to fight the wind on that one.’
“He fought it, and when I hit it in the water and hit it over the hole, we just finished with Bryson so bad and Charley not playing so well,” he said. “But I got it done, and that’s all that matters.”
It was Koepka’s second victory this year, coming after he won the U.S. Open. It wasn’t even his best round of the week, when he shot 63 in the final round at Colonial.
The top-ranked Koepka didn’t start the final round in the lead. He made three straight birdies on the front nine and ended the back nine with three straight pars. Koepka sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th to reach 9 under, and then hit his wedge to the back of the green and curled the putt around the hole for a winner’s fist pump.
That left DeChambeau to beat him by a shot. DeChambeau made a 12-foot birdie putt on the 17th, but parred the 18th and bogeyed the par-3 16th.
Afterward, he picked up his father, Jay, and needed all his strength to hold him back with both arms.
“I almost couldn’t stand it when I hit my tee shot into the par-3 16th hole, so I had to power that one out,” DeChambeau said. “The wind had just shifted there. I was trying to figure out what it was doing. I’ve never seen a wind like that. So I’m not sure. That was maybe the craziest pin I’ve ever hit.”
Koepka also holed some key putts, though the easiest came on the par-3 17th. He played from 155 yards out and hit a putt so straight and hard that he knew it was rolling in the hole when he saw the ball slightly swaying as it hit the cup.
The victory completes a two-week hot streak for Koepka. He won at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia for his second victory in his last three starts in Asia.
“This has been crazy. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, but it’s been fun,” Koepka said. “I’m really enjoying it. It’s been a good week.”