Brooks Koepka's Tour Championship run falls short in season finale

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Brooks Koepka's Tour Championship run falls short in season finale

PGA Tour

Brooks Koepka's Tour Championship run falls short in season finale

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ATLANTA – Brooks Koepka finished the third round Sunday morning with a 2-under 68 to take a one-shot lead at East Lake. Suddenly he was in control, on top of the leaderboard and in position to drop the mic on 2019 with another massive win and $15 million bonus at the Tour Championship.

A deflating final-round 72 left him five shots back of winner Rory McIlroy, tied for third with Justin Thomas after providing more hard evidence that he is, in fact, human.

“Just one of those days where you don’t feel comfortable,” Koepka said. “I mean, I can’t bring it every day.”

That’s true, but Koepka did start to bring it more consistently each day over the past season. For all his focus on the majors he had a great chance to take home the season-long FedEx Cup trophy to go alongside the inevitable Player of the Year honors he earned for the second consecutive season.

Koepka won a career-high three events, including the PGA Championship, and might have been even better than he was while winning two major titles in 2018.

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“I mean, I like two majors a little bit better,” Koepka said. “But at the same time, I thought my consistency was a little better. I think if you take away the major wins, I would say this year is probably better. … This year was very, very consistent. I felt like every time I needed to, I played well. You know, this week, just didn’t get it done. I don’t think I was going to beat Rory today, even if I had it. But pleased with the season overall.”

Koepka only hit five fairways in Sunday’s final round, and it’s hard to win while hitting approach shots from the chunky rough at East Lake. He pieced it together for an even-par 35 on the front nine, including a double-bogey. He was still very much on McIlroy’s heels until three consecutive bogeys at 12, 13 and 14 dropped him to 3 over on the day.

McIlroy tied for the low score of the round with an efficient 4-under 66, bouncing back from bogeys at 14 and 15 with closing birdies at 17 and 18.

“He’s a tough competitor,” Koepka said. “He grinds it out, man. Even when you’re playing with him, it’s fun to watch him.”

It’s been a whirlwind week for Koepka, who first stormed the headlines by tweeting nude photos from an ESPN magazine shoot and later created some confusion with his Nike Off-Whites and accompanying zip tie tags – his en vogue fashion choice went over the heads of many at East Lake.

Now he’s ready to take some time off, shutting it down for five-to-six weeks before picking things up again to start the 2019-20 season. He leaves East Lake very much looking forward to vacation time after a season in which he further cemented his status as golf’s reigning top dog.

“I didn’t play how I wanted to, but at the same time, I still love the grind,” Koepka said. “I mean, I still love competing and trying to figure it out, even when it’s not your day.”

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