Welcome to the February Pro Golf Wrap-Up – everything you need to know in the world of golf expertly curated by your friends at Global Golf Management.
Major championship winners Brooks Koepka and Collin Morikawa returned to the winner’s circle in February to highlight golf results in the second month of 2021. In fact, all the players who registered a victory, from Max Homa to Branden Grace to Daniel Berger on the PGA TOUR to Nelly Korda on the LPGA, had known victory before.
First-time winners were shut out. That hasn’t happened very many times in a month.
Morikawa claimed the first big prize of the year (though not the big one of the season, what with two majors already on the books in the 2020-21 campaign that began in September), when he seized control of the World Golf Championship-Workday Championship at The Concession in the third round and never let go in winning for the first time since his triumph in the PGA Championship in August.
The 24-year-old Californian carded a final-round 69 and won by three strokes over Koepka, Viktor Hovland and Billy Horschel with an 18-under 270 total. It was his fourth career win and he became the 24th player to win a major and a WGC title, but only he and Tiger Woods won both before turning 25.
He dedicated the win to his late grandfather, and to the recently injured Woods, who earlier in the week was injured in a one-car accident in California.
Koepka, by coincidence, hadn’t won since the 2019 WGC-St. Jude Championship, but he returned to the site of his first PGA TOUR title by capturing the Waste Management Phoenix Open with a stunning final-round flourish that included a chip-in eagle on the short par-4 17th at TPC Scottsdale.
The victory, which had come after months of dealing with physical issues, including a nagging knee injury, was his eighth on the PGA TOUR and his fourth in a non-major to go with his two U.S. Open titles and two victories in the PGA Championship.
A closing 6-under 65 gave Koepka a 19-under 265 total and a come-from-behind one-stroke victory over Xander Schauffele and K.H. Lee.
In other PGA TOUR results: Daniel Berger outdueled Jordan Spieth to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, while Max Homa won his hometown tournament, the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles and Branden Grace claimed his second PGA TOUR victory at the Puerto Rico Open, the event held opposite the WGC-Workday Championship at the Concession Club in Bradenton, Fla.
Although celebrities and amateurs weren’t part of the scene at Pebble Beach this year because of the pandemic, young talents Berger, Partick Cantlay and past Pebble Beach winner Jordan Spieth provided star power and battled at the iconic seaside layout, and Berger, needing birdie on the 72nd hole, finished in style by sinking a long eagle putt to beat Maverick McNealy by two shots.
A 7-under 65 gave Berger his third win in the last two years as he finished at 18-under 270. Cantlay and Spieth tied for third, one shot behind McNealy, still seeking his first TOUR title.
At Riviera Country Club, another famed layout, Homa outlasted a frustrated Tony Finau, who once again came close to adding a second PGA TOUR title but instead saw Homa claim his second win by beating Finau on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff.
Homa shot a final-round 5-under 66 to tie Finau at 12-under 272 after missing 3-foot birdie putt on the 72ndhole that would have won it in regulation. Finau fired a 64 on Sunday, but missed his own chance to win when he failed to sink an 8-footer for birdie on the first playoff hole. Homa only needed a par on the second extra hole when Finau missed the green and couldn’t get up and down from a bunker.
Just weeks after his father died due to COVID-19, Branden Grace finished eagle-birdie to win Puerto Rico Open for his second PGA TOUR victory five years after his first. The closing flourish enabled the South African to close with a 6-under 66 and 19-under 269 total at Grand Reserve Country Club. Grace, 32, beat Jhonattan Vegas by one stroke.
“It’s been a very tough couple of years, and a tough couple of months,” said Grace, who lost his father, Peter, five weeks earlier. “It’s just nice to—obviously with all the support back home with my wife and my son and my family and everybody back home, and all that we have been through, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.”
At Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando, Fla., Nelly Korda won the Gainbridge LPGA for her fourth career victory to give the Korda sisters wins in the first two events of the year. Older sister Jessica won the season-opening tournament in January, the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions Presented by IOA in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Motivated by her sister’s win, Nelly shot a closing 3-under 69 to finish at 16-under 272 for a three-stroke victory over fellow American Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko. She pocketed $300,000 for her first win in the U.S.
The Kordas, who are one of three sister duos to win on the LPGA (along with the Sorenstams and Jutanugarns), are the first sisters to win consecutive events since Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam did it in 2000. Annika won the Welch’s/Circle K Championship on March 13, 2000, and Charlotta won the Standard Register PING the following week.
Stay tuned here and on Global Golf Management Twitter for next month’s Pro Golf Wrap-Up.