Justin Rose’s lead entering the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational proved to be more than enough after he forged a 6-under-par 64 on Sunday to finish at 20-under 260 and three strokes clear of runner-up Brooks Koepka after 72 holes of competition at venerable Colonial Country Club.
The win was Rose’s ninth on the PGA Tour and his second of the season, following his come-from-behind victory in the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China in October.
Rose, an Englishman who captured both the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion and the Gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics, had six birdies and a bogey on the front nine in the final round, managing to expand his over lead over Koepka, the reigning U.S. Open champ, despite the latter’s 31 over the first nine holes.
Rose added birdies on the par-5 11th and the tough, par-4 15th and a bogey on the 18th while Koepka added birdies on Nos. 11, 13, 15 and 17 before bogeying the final hole and finishing with a 63 in the final round.
But there was no catching Rose on this day, as he had just five total bogeys over the four rounds of play on this traditional, pecan-tree-lined layout on the banks of the Trinity River a mile southwest of downtown Fort Worth. The legendary Ben Hogan won this event five times in his career.
“I delighted with the way I plays this week here at Hogan’s Alley,” Rose said. “I tried to channel a little bit of that Hogan magic with the way I hit the ball this week. It was a hard week with the heat to stay hydrated and get enough water. Part of the challenge this week was just getting around the golf course.
“I haven’t played this venue for a while and to win on a golf course like this — I couldn’t be more proud because it’s such a special place. To glance to the right and see the names on the wall here on the first tee is special, and it’s great knowing my name will be there, too.”
Rose became the second golfer on the PGA Tour in the past three weeks to own at least a four-shot lead heading into the final round on the way to a victory.
“This is something for me to build on,” he said. “I would love to be more comfortable on the greens heading to the U.S. Open, but wouldn’t we all? I feel like I still have upside, but this week was a big step, taking the range game to the golf course. There is still more work to be done.”
Emiliano Grillo of Argentina was third after his own 64 on Sunday left him four shots in back of Rose.
“I was able to put together a solid round like I needed to do,” Grillo said. “It’s hard comparing to the two guys on top of the leaderboard — they played even better than I did. I thought I played very well, but they did a couple strokes better than I did. It’s a very positive week for me. I’m going to be in the U.S. Open, which was one my goals going into this week. I’m happy with everything.”
Kevin Na, who shot a 61 in the final round to tie the course record, finished alone in fourth at 14 under, with Kevin Tway (67), Jon Rahm of Spain (68) and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa (68) tied for fifth another four strokes in arrears.
Joaquin Niemann of Chile, who was the No. 1-ranked golfer in the World Amateur Golf Ranking from May 2017 to April 2018 before turning pro last month at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, shot a 66 on Sunday to tie for eighth with Ben Crane (68), and Canada’s Corey Conners (69), 11 strokes off Rose’s pace.
Na had two great rounds that bookended two poor ones this week. He holed out from 90-plus feet for birdie on the final hole in the opening round on Thursday to shoot a 62 that gave him a one-shot lead, but he promptly coughed that up with a 3-over 73 on Friday.
Na played Saturday’s round in 70 shots before returning to his excellent play in the final round. He hit his 146-yard approach shot on the par-4 18th hole to a foot, then sunk the putt for birdie to equal the course record.
“Yeah, I knew it was for the course record — I knew I had to birdie the last to tie it,” Na said of his shot on the closing hole. “I had a beautiful 9-iron. Drew it in there, turned to the left flag. It’s a little dangerous. Obviously anything left goes in the water.
“I putted great in the first round and final round. Second round I putted awful. I went back to my putter I played with last week in Round 3 and then I putted great today.”
The PGA Tour moves north to Dublin, Ohio next week for the Memorial Tournament at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village Golf Club.
–Field Level Media