Turk­ish de­light for Koepka as Rory wins Race

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

BELEK, Turkey: Young Amer­i­can Brooks Koepka, pic­tured, looked as cool as a cu­cum­ber as he won a bat­tle royal with Ian Poul­ter to claim the first reg­u­lar tour vic­tory of his ca­reer at the $7-mil­lion Turk­ish Air­lines Open yes­ter­day.

The 24-year-old’s tri­umph also meant Rory McIlroy was con­firmed as Europe’s 2013-14 Race to Dubai money-list win­ner ahead of this week’s sea­son-end­ing DP World Tour Cham­pi­onship in Dubai.

Koepka and the 38year-old Poul­ter were locked to­gether at the top of the leader­board un­til the young­ster struck a ma­jes­tic ap­proach at the 13th and non­cha­lantly rolled in a 12-foot ea­gle putt to burst two strokes clear.

The English­man, play­ing in the match be­hind, had to make do with a birdie at the 13th and the des­tiny of the ti­tle even­tu­ally rested on de­vel­op­ments at the 18th.

The bearded Koepka could only man­age a par-five at the last after push­ing his tee-shot into the tall pine trees that line the Mont­gomerie Maxx Royal and be­ing forced to chip the ball out side­ways.

Poul­ter found sand with his ap­proach and then the man who is nor­mally so re­li­able with the put­ter in Ry­der Cup com­bat missed a glo­ri­ous op­por­tu­nity to set up a sud­den­death play-off when he failed to hole his birdie at­tempt from five feet.

“This is awe­some,” Koepka said after a clos­ing seven-un­der 65 gave him a 17-un­der tally of 271. “I played well and ob­vi­ously Poul­ter did too.

“It’s nice to get the win over some of the best play­ers in the world. To make that ea­gle putt was very big for me to build mo­men­tum over the last few holes.”

Poul­ter (67) fin­ished on 272, two ahead of Swede Hen­rik Sten­son (64) and three in front of Span­ish veteran Miguel An­gel Jimenez, overnight leader Wade Ormsby of Aus­tralia and English pair Andy Sul­li­van and Danny Wil­lett. The Turk­ish Open is start­ing to de­velop a habit for first-time win­ners, after French­man Vic­tor Dubuis­son tri­umphed in the in­au­gu­ral edi­tion 12 months ago, and Koepka's vic­tory un­der­lines his sta­tus as one of the hottest young prospects in golf. The Amer­i­can, who has won four times on the sec­ondtier Euro­pean Chal­lenge Tour, said in an in­ter­view on Satur­day that he would be dis­ap­pointed if he ended the sea­son with­out a break­through ti­tle.

Once he wrested the ini­tia­tive away from Poul­ter, he had to show nerves of steel at the 17th. Koepka was star­tled by a scream on his back­swing, leav­ing him to shake his head and look dag­gers at the crowd after miss­ing the green with a way­ward ap­proach. His ball nes­tled in deep rough but he played a sump­tu­ous re­cov­ery to three feet and knocked in his par-sav­ing putt. Koepka’s win earned him a cheque for $1,16-mil­lion and he will climb from 61st in the world into the top 40.

Hen­nie Otto and Bran­den Grace did best of the South Africans yes­ter­day, shar­ing 19th place on 280. – Reuters

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