Sunday's golf: Kokrak gets 2nd win quicker, overcoming Spieth at Colonial

Associated Press
View Comments

Fort Worth, Texas — Jason Kokrak played in 233 PGA Tour events before getting his first victory. The big hitter didn't have to wait nearly as long to win again, though this one may have been harder because he had to overcame a local favorite at Colonial.

Kokrak shot an even-par 70 in a final-group showdown Sunday with resurgent Jordan Spieth, winning the Charles Schwab Challenge at 14-under 266. He was two strokes better than Spieth, who hit his approach from the rough at No. 18 over the green and into the water.

Jason Kokrak poses with the Leonard Trophy after winning the Charles Schwab Challenge golf tournament at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas Sunday, May 30, 2021, as Colonial Country Club president Christine Klote, right, and other applaud him.

“You stay in the moment and it’s a golf course. You’re playing the golf course, you’re playing yourself. You’re not really playing Jordan,” Kokrak said. “But for where we got to in comparison to some of the other players, I knew it was going to be a boxing match and see who was going to come out on top.”

There were five bogeys and five birdies for Kokrak, who twice needed two shots to get out of bunkers. There were also back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 15 and 16 before a key par-saving 7-foot putt after his approach missed the 17th green.

But when he struck his round-ending 4-footer, he followed the ball to the cup and finally broke into a smile when celebrating with caddie David Robinson.

A huge crowd followed the only contending group all day, most of them waiting to erupt for Dallas-native Spieth, who began the round with a one-stroke lead before a bogey-filled 73. Kokrak said he heard some negative comments and knew he “definitely was not the favorite," but did have a high school buddy and a cousin's friend supporting him on the course.

“Naturally, you’re going to pull for the hometown kid. I appreciate it. I appreciate the gamesmanship," Kokrak said. “Jordan was amazing all day. He’s a true champion and he’s won multiple times and is an incredible player. I’m glad to be standing victorious above a guy that’s so good.”

Kokrak, playing in his 16th tournament since winning the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in October, joined Bryson DeChambeau and Stewart Cink as the only players with two wins on the PGA Tour this season.

Spieth, the 2016 winner at Colonial, was a runner-up there for the third time after leading each of the first three rounds.

“I didn’t play well at all, quite simply. I could have shot even par today and won the golf tournament, but from the very get-go, just a really bad start, and then tried to fight my way through it,” Spieth said. “I was just really off with my golf swing. I really lost it this weekend. You just have to be in control around Colonial.”

The latest:Phil Mickelson, PGA Championship winner, commits to play in Rocket Mortage classic

It was still his eighth top-10 finish in his last 11 starts this year, one more top 10 than he had the previous two seasons combined.

Along with the $1.35 million winner’s check and plaid jacket, Kokrak got a customized restored 1946 Schwab Power Wagon, a truck with 40-inch tires and a model date matching the first year of Colonial, the longest-running PGA event at the same venue.

“I’m a big guy with a big truck with a big jacket and a big paycheck. So I guess everything’s bigger in Texas, right,” he said.

Charley Hoffman had a closing 65 to finish in a four-way third at 10 under. He also had a tournament-best 62 on Friday, but that was sandwiched by a pair of over-par rounds (71 on Thursday and 72 on Saturday). Patton Kizzire (67), Sebastian Munoz (68) and Ian Poulter (68) were also at 10-under 270. Troy Merritt was along in seventh at 7 under.

Sergio Garcia was in third place at 10 under to start the final round, but the 41-year-old Spaniard, who got the first of his 11 PGA Tour wins 20 years ago at Colonial, bogeyed the opening par 5, then had had a three-putt for double bogey at No. 3. He shot a 76 and tied for 20th at 276.

Kokrak took the lead for good with birdies at the longest and shortest holes, making a 13-foot putt at the 629-yard 11th hole, an then a 17-footer off the fringe at the 170-yard 13th after a tee shot the came close to going into the water fronting the par 3. Spieth only had two birdies, the last with an approach to less than 2 feet on No. 9 that matched them at 14 under going to the back nine.

After going into a greenside bunker at the 551-yard opening hole, Kokrak didn't get the ball out of there on the first try and the bogey quickly put him two strokes behind.

More from Colonial: Resurgent Jordan Spieth 3rd-round leader over Jason Kokrak

But Spieth, who had only two bogeys in the first 55 holes, then bogeyed three holes in a row — and had two more on the back nine. He went in the right rough and then over the green on both Nos. 2 and 3, then hit into a bunker fronting the difficult 241-yard, par-3 fourth. He blasted to six feet, but his par attempt curled around the edge of the cup and he had to tap in for bogey.

Kokrak led for the first time after a 23-foot birdie putt at the fifth, but his other bunker trouble came at No. 7, where he bogeyed while Spieth made par after a wayward tee shot hit a tree and ricocheted into the fairway.

Senior PGA

Alex Cejka won the Senior PGA Championship on Sunday for his second straight major championship, thriving on accurate and powerful ball-striking and deft touch around the demanding greens at Southern Hills.

Cejka shot a 3-under 67 for a four-stroke victory over Tim Petrovic, three weeks after he beat Steve Stricker in a playoff in the Regions Tradition in Alabama.

“It’s incredible,” Cejka said. “Seeing and knowing all those names who are up there on the trophy and being on the trophy myself, it’s a dream come true. ... Monday when I played for the first time here I walked those fairways and remember seeing this on TV in all those years and I can’t even describe how it feels to be here and touching the trophy. I’m just super blessed. I’m super happy. It’s an incredible feeling right now. “

Cejka fled the Czech Republic with his father at age nine, settling eventually in West Germany, where he took up golf and turned professional at age 18.

Stricker had a one-shot lead going into the final round and many expected another duel to the finish. That duel vanished early, with Stricker’s usually reliable putting failing him greatly. He missed seven putts inside of 8 feet, and his ball-striking also was off, leading to a 77 that dropped into a tie for 11th.

After a birdie at the first, Cejka had a nervous bogey-bogey stretch on Nos. 2 and 3. But with Mike Weir and Stricker making a mess of things around him, he steadily pulled away with birdies on Nos. 5, 7, 11 and 12. From there he held on, getting up-and-down from greenside bunkers and overcoming a water ball on the par-5 13th that led to his only bogey on the back nine. He also drove into a creek on the par-4 10th, but after taking a drop, hit his third shot to 6 feet and saved par.

He finished at 8-under 272.

LPGA

Ally Ewing won the LPGA Match Play on Sunday at Shadow Creek, beating Sophia Popov 2 and 1 for her second tour victory.

Ewing won the difficult par-4 14th with a birdie to take a 2-up lead and closed out her German rival with a double-bogey halve on the par-3 17th.

The 28-year-old former Mississippi State player won her first tour title in October in Florida at Reynolds Lake Oconee, still playing under her maiden name of McDonald. On Sunday, she won on her first wedding anniversary with Bulldogs women's coach Charlie Ewing.

On another long, hot day in the desert, Ewing won the par-4 second and fourth holes and held the 2-up lead until Popov took the par-5 11th with a birdie. Popov won the British Women's Open last year.

In the semifinals, Ewing beat Ariya Jutanugarn 3 and 2, and Popov edged Shanshan Feng 1 up. Feng conceded the third-place match to Jutanugarn because of the heat and fatigue with the U.S. Women’s Open only days away at Olympic in San Francisco.

“If I play 18 more I don’t know how I will do,” Feng said. "I might fall over on the course. I don’t think I should push myself that bad. If I got in the top two, of course, yes, I would play until I fall down on the course. But I lost the match in the morning, and I think it’s better idea just to get rested after this. Next week is the U.S. Open. It’s a very hilly and challenging course, so, I just want to be well-rested and protect myself.”

The Chinese star played 41 holes Saturday.

On Saturday, Ewing beat local favorite Danielle Kang 1 up in the quarterfinals after outlasting Jenny Coleman in 19 holes in the morning in the round of 16.

European Tour

Bernd Wiesberger retained his title at the Made in HimmerLand event on the European Tour by shooting 7-under 64 to win by five shots on Sunday.

The Austrian golfer won the tournament in Denmark in 2019 and it was canceled last year because of the pandemic.

The 35-year-old Wiesberger became the first player to retain a European Tour title since Jon Rahm at the Open de España in 2019.

Wiesberger took a one-shot lead over Alexander Bjork into the final round and was three clear of Laurie Canter. They failed to seriously challenge the leader, who pulled away by making six birdies in eighth holes from No. 8 to finish 21 under overall.

Bjork shot 70 and Canter shot 69 — the highest scores in the top 16 overall finishers.

Guido Migliozzi shot the lowest round of the day, a birdie-free 63, to finish alone in second.

NCAA

Oklahoma State's Bo Jin shot a steady 1-under 69 on Sunday to take a two-shot lead into the final day of individual stroke play in the NCAA men's championship.

The freshman led by three after a 65 on Saturday and followed with another day of crisp iron play to reach 9 under at Grayhawk Golf Club's difficult Raptor Course.

Clemson senior Turk Pettit was 7 under after a 68 on another hot day in the desert. Wake Forest's Parker Gilliam had the low round of the day with a bogey-free 64 on the par-70 course and was tied with Oklahoma's Quade Cummins at 5 under.

Jin and teammate Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra's 68 helped Oklahoma State reach 12 under, 13 shots ahead of rival Oklahoma in the team competition. Arizona State was third, 14 shots behind the Cowboys.

The final round of individual stroke play will be Monday. The team competition was cut to 15 after Sunday's round and will be trimmed for a final eight for match play on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Cowboys are vying for their 12th national title — second since 2018 — and second straight individual national champion. Matthew Wolff won in 2019 before last year's tournament was scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

View Comments