Brooks Koepka sank a birdie putt on the third hole of a playoff to defeat Peter Uihlein and win the LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah on Sunday in Saudi Arabia.
Koepka opened the tournament with an 8-under-par 62 at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, but Uihlein took a one-shot lead after a second-round 63. On Sunday, Koepka shot a 69 and Uihlein a 70 to tie at 12 under for the weekend.
They each birdied the first two playoff holes before Uihlein found the sand and hit his third shot from there into a water hazard. Koepka rolled in another birdie, and in doing so clinched his first tournament title anywhere since the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February 2021.
Koepka had not been faring well even prior to departing the PGA Tour for the Saudi-financed startup. The four-time major champion had struggled to get past multiple nagging injuries.
“It’s been before LIV, when I blew my knee out and my foot was pointed that way, almost backwards and sideways,” Koepka said. “Credit to (orthopedic surgeon Neal) ElAttrache. Throw his name out there. I still — I mean, eventually I’m going to have to have knee replacement in a few years, but I didn’t know what was — I wasn’t sure whether I could even move the same way and if I want to play if I could move the way I wanted.
“I’m fortunate be in the spot that I’m in right now.”
Koepka overcame a string of three straight bogeys at Nos. 11-13 before finishing off his 69. Koepka and Uihlein each birdied the par-5 18th to get to 12 under, one stroke ahead of Chile’s Joaquin Niemann (65) and Spain’s Sergio Garcia (68), who tied for third at 11 under.
Matthew Wolff (66), Dustin Johnson (67) and England’s Paul Casey (68) tied for seventh at 10 under.
Uihlein plays on Koepka’s Team Smash, which combined for 33 under this week for an easy six-stroke win in the team competition. Koepka’s brother Chase Koepka and Jason Kokrak round out Smash’s lineup.
With his win, Brooks Koepka also cemented second place in the season standings, which provides another $8 million bonus, and Uihlein pulled into third to win a $4 million bonus. Johnson previously clinched the $18 million bonus for first.
“Just a lot happier out here than I have been the last five years playing on (the PGA Tour),” Uihlein said. “The team aspect of it I like. I was never really a fan of the lone wolf kind of thing that we had to do. But being a part of the team, practicing, hanging out, kind of like college. It resonates with me and sticks with me. I really like it.”
While LIV Golf is widely known for being financed by Saudi backers, this was the first LIV tournament to be held in Saudi Arabia. It was the seventh and final tournament of the regular season before the team championship later this month in Miami.
–Field Level Media