Koepka Two Ahead In PGA Tour's Season Opener

by
Reuters
Unheralded American Brooks Koepka moved a step closer to clinching a maiden victory on the PGA Tour after stretching his lead to two shots in Saturday's third round of the Frys.com Open in San Martin, California.

Koepka Two Ahead In PGA Tour's Season Opener

Unheralded American Brooks Koepka moved a step closer to clinching a maiden victory on the PGA Tour after stretching his lead to two shots in Saturday's third round of the Frys.com Open in San Martin, California.

A stroke in front of the chasing pack overnight, Koepka kept his nearest challengers at bay as he fired a four-under-par 67 on another sun-splashed day of low scoring at CordeValle Golf Club in the opening event of the PGA Tour's 2013-14 season.

Though he was caught in a share of the lead by both Jason Kokrak and Robert Garrigus earlier in the round, the 23-year-old forged ahead with three birdies in the last six holes to post a 15-under total of 198.

"You've just got to approach it the same way," Koepka, who is competing for the first time in a regular PGA Tour event, told Golf Channel of his mindset for Sunday's final round.

"We've got a good game plan and things seems to be going pretty well. So just stick to it and everything will take care of itself. I played really well today."

The big-hitting Kokrak carded a 68 to share second place at 13 under with fellow American George McNeill, who rocketed up the leaderboard with a 10-birdie 62, equalling the course record matched earlier in the day by compatriot Jimmy Walker.

"It was a lot of fun," McNeill, who is seeking a third victory on the PGA Tour, told reporters. "Sixty-two, I don't know how it could ever not be fun.

"I figured out something on the range last night and my swing was much more comfortable today. I felt free so I could go ahead and aim at some flags."

 

'SENIOR CITIZEN'

Former world number one and 'senior citizen' Vijay Singh, who made his debut on the over-50 Champions Tour in Hawaii last month, carded a 65 to sit three shots off the pace at 12 under, level with Walker.

But it was Koepka, a non-member of the PGA Tour who is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, who once again commanded the spotlight.

The former three-time All-American at Florida State birdied three of the first four holes to remain a stroke in front, Kokrak having briefly joined him in a tie at the top after holing out from 130 yards to eagle the par-four first.

Though Koepka bogeyed the sixth, he parred the next three holes to reach the turn in a share of the lead at 13 under with Garrigus, who mixed five birdies with a lone bogey on the front nine.

Koepka offset a birdie at the 13th with a bogey at the 14th, where he found a fairway bunker off the tee, but regained a one-shot cushion when he got up and down from a greenside bunker to birdie the par-five 15th.

He picked up another shot at the driveable par-four 17th, two-putting there from 30 feet, and narrowly missed out on a birdie at the last where his eight-foot putt stayed out.

Koepka, who has already won four times on the lower-tier European Challenge Tour, is bidding to become the first person to triumph on the PGA Tour playing on a sponsor exemption since England's Lee Westwood at the 2010 FedEx St. Jude Classic.

"The Challenge Tour, winning four times, that helped me a lot me in learning how to win," said Koepka.

"That's a big thing. You've just got to stick with what you're doing for a whole week. That's what got you here in the first place."