2023 PGA Championship leaderboard: Brooks Koepka wins fifth major, third PGA in return to elite form  Scaling the mountaintop once is difficult; staying there is nearly impossible. Returning to the summit is almost unheard of, but don't tell that to Brooks Koepka. Four years removed from capturing his last major championship, Koepka stood victorious at one of the sport's premier tournaments winning the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club by two strokes over Viktor Hovland and Scottie Scheffler. The victory is first for Koepka (-9) at a major since the 2019 PGA Championship. It marks a return to form for one of the game's brightest stars, who had been plagued over the last three years by knee injuries that led him to question whether he had a future atop the sport he once dominated. Koepka scored consecutive 4-under 66s to storm to the top of the star-studded field over the weekend, adding a 67 on Sunday to join Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the third golfer to win three or more PGA Championships in the stroke-play era. He also becomes the fifth player to win as many PGAs and at least two U.S. Opens -- standing alongside Woods, Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen -- and the 20th in history with at least five major titles on their mantle. While Koepka had seven top-10 finishes across the 13 majors he played since that 2019 PGA victory, he finished no better than 55th with two missed cuts in last season's four majors. To start 2023 with a pair of top-two finishes at the Masters and PGA, there's no question that Koepka has returned to form. It all confirms what many already believed: Koepka is one of the great major championship competitors ever. "I look back on where we were two years ago, everything that's gone on, I'm just so happy right now that I'm kind of at a loss for words," Koepka said after hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy. "To be with those group of names is absolutely incredible, something, I'll be honest, I'm not even sure if I dreamed of it as a kid winning this many." Despite what the final score may suggest, Koepka's fifth major came with its fair share of adversity -- not only in the years leading up to it but just last month at the 2023 Masters (where he stood as the 54-hole leader only to finish second) and Sunday within the final round of the PGA Championship itself. Kick-starting his day with three consecutive birdies on holes 2-4, Koepka saw his overnight lead balloon to three. And then he hit a speed bump. When his tee shot found the penalty area on the difficult par-4 6th, Koepka did well to just drop one before dropping another on the next. All his hard work had temporarily been erased, and the added cushion he had built over Hovland suddenly evaporated. He made the turn in 1 under, as did Hovland, and went to the back nine face-to-face with the 25-year-old as Scheffler, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, was up ahead making a charge of his own. Two birdies sandwiched a bogey on the 11th for Koepka, and while the par breakers added some breathing room, it was a par conversion on the par-5 13th that was vintage. Missing the green with his third and chipping his fourth to 10 feet above the hole, the 33-year-old successfully navigated a slippery par save to maintain a one-stroke edge over a surging Hovland. Scheffler clawed his way to two back, but that would be as close as the Texan came to Koepka. Running out of holes, Scheffler's inability to apply pressure down the stretch -- along with birdies from Koepka and Hovland on the 14th -- meant the three-horse race was down to just the final pair. Pars were exchanged on the tricky 15th, and the championship's deciding moment came soon after. With Hovland scrambling after hitting his second shot from the fairway bunker and into the lip, Koepka saw his moment to pounce. From the lush rough, his second tumbled towards the pin on the 16th and settled near tap-in distance for his seventh and final birdie of the day. Koepka entered the hole leading by one and left up four. After that, Koepka's fifth major victory and spot among golf's immortality was secured. Here's a breakdown of the rest of the leaderboard at the 2023 PGA Championship. T2. Viktor Hovland (-7): For the third straight major championship, Hovland found himself with a legitimate chance to win. Unlike the first two, he still had that opportunity heading into the back nine as he matched Koepka punch for punch nearly the entire day. Birdie conversions on holes 13-14 maintained his one-stroke deficit before disaster struck two holes later. Hovland's chance to become the first major champion from Norway vanished when his second from the fairway bunker on the 16th embedded in the lip and led to a double bogey.  To make matters worse, Koepka went on to birdie the hole and stretch his lead to four. Hovland was able to cut the lead in half when all was said and done, but this major finish has to be more disappointing than the two prior given how close he was entering the back nine. Hovland is fun-loving, wide-smiling and capable of playing with the best of 'em. "It's cool," said Hovland. "First place is a lot better than tied for second, but it is fun to even just have a chance to been one of these. Just making the cut and finishing 20th, you know, that's -- you haven't played poorly, but you've been a non-factor in the tournament. So to be in the last group, that was my second time and been in contention for three of these. That's pretty cool." T2. Scottie Scheffler (-7): The world No. 2 once again snuck up on the field on Sunday. Stalling in the initial portion of his final round, Scheffler found some birdies before the turn just as Koepka began to struggle. He went from seven down to three down in the span of 30 minutes and suddenly launched himself into the conversation. Scheffler got as close as two with birdies on Nos. 13-14, but it ultimately proved to be too little too late. After getting to 5 under at the 36-hole mark, Scheffler played his final 36 in 2 under lowlighted by his third-round 73. A victory would have been Scheffler's second major in six tries and his third rather large trophy (including the Players Championship). While it was not meant to be, Scheffler continues to stake his claim as the best player in the world -- he will steal that No. 1 spot from Jon Rahm on Monday when the Official World Golf Rankings are updated -- and he hasn't finished outside the top 12 on a leaderboard since October 2022. T4. Bryson DeChambeau, Kurt Kitayama, Cameron Davis (-3): Golf is better when DeChambeau is playing well. He shot out the gates with a 4-under 66 only to play his final 54 holes in a 1-over fashion to claim his first worldwide top five since the 2021 BMW Championship. After gaining nearly six strokes with the big stick the first two days, the 2020 U.S. Open champion struggled with off the tee but showed a ton of guts in the process.  T7. Rory McIlroy, Sepp Straka (-2): McIlroy's up-and-down final round was an encapsulation of his week. The 34-year-old arrived on site with a visible chip on his shoulder, lamenting that he was feeling less than 100% physically. Then, he got off to yet another poor start in a major championship. The world No. 3 battled back Thursday and continued his march over the next 54 holes. He again showed that he had more than enough firepower to contend down the stretch. McIlroy carded 10 birdies over the weekend, but the mistakes piled up. Where does Rory go from here? Now nine years removed from his last major triumph at the 2014 PGA Championship, he appears to be searching for his identity as he leaves yet another one inside the top 10 but without a trophy. "I'll look back on this week as proud of how I hung in there, and I guess my attitude and sticking to it, not having my best stuff," said McIlroy. "Probably not a ton of memorable golf shots hit. My playing partner today hit a couple memorable golf shots, though. Yeah, the atmosphere out there, playing with Michael [Block], was unbelievable. We both got amazing support, but you know, he got unbelievable support, understandably so, being in this position as a club pro and playing so well and, you know, competing into the latter stages of a major championship. It was really impressive." T9. Patrick Cantlay, Cameron Smith, Justin Rose (-1): It will go down as Cantlay's fourth straight top 15 finish in a major championship, but even he knows there is still work to be done. The world No. 4 got off to a dreadful start Thursday and played his final 54 holes in 5 under. He polished off his time in Rochester with a 4-under 66. Cantlay ranked second in strokes gained off the tee on a course that demanded excellence with the big stick but fell woefully short on and around the green. He was never close to sniffing contention. T15. Michael Block, Tyrrell Hatton and two others (+1): What more is there to say? The club pro from Southern California took New York by storm in his fifth appearance at a PGA Championship. He nearly touched the lead Friday and got welcomed into the weekend with tee times alongside 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose on Saturday and McIlroy on Sunday. As if that wasn't enough, Block gave the rowdy Rochester faithful even more to cheer about with a hole-in-one on the par-3 15th. Even that wasn't his best moment in the final round as the 46-year-old converted an unlikely up-and-down on the 72nd hole to secure his spot in the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla.  Source: CBSSports  

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2023 Mexico Open leaderboard, grades: Tony Finau outlasts world No. 1 Jon Rahm for victory at Vidanta

"Confidence when you win is contagious," said Tony Finau after winning the 2022 Houston Open for his fifth career title on the PGA Tour. At the 2023 Mexico Open on Sunday, Finau's confidence was on full display as he outmanned and outgunned the hottest player in the world, Jon Rahm, en route to his sixth victory and fourth in his last 18 starts with a 24-under performance.

Beginning the day with a two-stroke lead over his good friend and playing partner most off weeks in Scottsdale, Arizona, Finau squashed the thought of any potential duel from the very start. A birdie on the opener saw Finau expand his lead to three before three casual pars on the next three.

Up ahead in the penultimate group, Brandon Wu would make his presence known. Carding three birdies and an eagle in his first seven holes, the 26-year-old momentarily caught Finau at 21 under. However, that would be as close Wu would get as mistakes piled up while Finau's quality began to persist.

A birdie on the par-3 5th was followed by a nifty par save on the 6th, a crucial birdie on No. 7 and an even more critical par on the 8th. Finau turned in 3 under, and not only regained the lead but grew his margin as a three-stroke edge was in his hands despite Rahm, Wu and Akshay Bhatia all throwing their fair share of punches.

Unfortunately for the chasing pack, none of them would land and no noticeable unease would imprint on the leader.

The final nine from Finau was a masterclass on how to play with a large lead. Laying up short of trouble, converting birdie opportunities when presented and slowly draining the life out of the tournament and his fellow competitors, the 33-year-old's inward half 34 meant a final round 66 and a three-stroke victory.

This all -- staring the world No. 1 square in the eyes and sneakily becoming one of the most prominent winners on Tour – probably doesn't materialize for Finau if this tournament was just three years in the past. Enduring a five-year winless drought over 142 tournaments, Finau has now won five times since his victory in the 2021 FedEx Cup Playoffs at the Northern Trust just 41 starts ago.

"On Sunday out here I've learned that you just have to be aggressive, you have to make birdies," said Finau. "Guys are going to make birdies. There's so many great players, especially someone of Rahmbo's stature … So my mindset on Sundays I think has just changed. You never get comfortable with the lead. That's my nature, anyway, is to be an aggressive player. I always have been that way, and so Sundays are starting to shape up better for me since I've been in contention, but I think I just have learned a lot."

With this win, Finau becomes the fourth player on the PGA Tour to claim multiple victories on the season joining Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Max Homa. Rarely is he discussed in such company as he has yet to win an upper echelon event such as the Genesis Invitational let alone a major championship.

However, just like Finau's former inability to close, expect him to figure this out and soon. With the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club quickly approaching, Finau will be among those capable of taking down Rahm (as he did today) and the other members of the true elite such as Scheffler. His iron play tops the PGA Tour over the last six months, and his confidence may not be far behind.

Riles & Hardy Team Up for First PGA Win

Winning on the PGA Tour is difficult. Each and every year, the circuit is replenished with fresh new talent while the mainstays remain at the top. Just ask Davis Riley and Nick Hardy who are in the middle of their second seasons and claimed their first career titles at the 2023 Zurich Classic at 30 under after rounds of 64-66-63-65.

"This is so special and to share it with one of my best friends out here on Tour is a dream come true," Riley said. "The progression of playing high school, college golf and playing PGA Tour golf is super special and to share this moment with Nick is pretty cool."

While Riley wasn't even supposed to play in this event after he teamed up with injured Will Zalatoris in 2022, Hardy originally sought the services of his former collegiate teammate Thomas Detry. The Belgian decided to pair with a potential European Ryder Cup teammate Victor Perez, and as such, Hardy looked in the direction of Riley, a fellow PGA Tour sophomore and longtime friend.

Their relationship that began at the age of 14 proved to be fruitful as they set the all-time tournament scoring record and surpassed the mark set by defending champions Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.

Beginning the day three strokes off the pace set by Wyndham Clark and Beau Hossler, the winning duo didn't really get into gear until the back nine on Sunday. Turning in a respectable 2 under, Hardy and Riley found their stride with five back-nine birdies including a near ace on the par-3 14th struck by Riley.

"All I had to do was hear it," Hardy said of Riley's shot. "It was the purest 5 iron I have ever heard, I didn't even watch it and it almost went in obviously. It was really solid down the stretch and it just feels great to close."

This would pull them into a share of the lead with a surging Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin and a sputtering Hossler and Clark. With the Canadians setting the clubhouse lead at 28 under, the young guns kept their heads down and went to work. A clutch birdie on the short par-4 16th put them in control before an unlikely bid from off the green on 17 slammed the door shut on Hossler and Clark who were behind them on the golf course.

For Hardy and Riley, this moment was years in the making. Both AJGA All-Americans growing up, the two have dealt with the difficulties of playing on the PGA Tour first hand. Hardy fought injury in the latter stages of 2022, aggravating his wrist at this very tournament, and was forced to go through the Korn Ferry Tour Playoffs to retain his playing privileges. Riley meanwhile has experienced his fair share of close calls with the winner's circle.

Even more importantly, this catapults both of them inside the top 40 of the FedEx Cup and secures their playing privileges moving forward. Beginning the week outside the top 80, they are both locks to make their way into the postseason and are proof these regular events still hold significant weight and importance for those players itching to make a name for themselves. Grade: A+

Here is the breakdown of the rest of the notable teams on the leaderboard at the 2023 Zurich Classic.

3. Wyndham Clark/Beau Hossler (-27): For the majority of the tournament, it felt as if the first time winners would be Clark and Hossler. Holding at least a share of the lead after each round, the two were on their way early in the final round. Carding a couple early birdies, the wheels began to fall off when a sloppy bogey was made on the par-5 7th. Unable to take advantage of the short 8th, additional birdie bids would fall by the wayside on the back nine. The inability to take advantage of the par 5s and short par 4s was ultimately their downfall and opened the door for the eventual winners to walk through. Despite this disappointment, the week should be chalked up as a success as both players tasted contention for the first time in a while. Grade: A

T4. Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele (-26): While their play in foursomes was impressive, their play in four-ball simply fell short. Signing for rounds of 67-66, the two friends were unable to card enough birdies in the easier format to apply pressure on the rest of the field. While their quality shined in the difficult alternate shot, by that point, it was too little too late. They came into the week as heavy favorites and will be kicking themselves for not kick-starting their season at this event as they did last year. With only 17 events left in the season, the two remain winless as spring enters its latter stages.

"Best ball wasn't our best format this year compared to last year," Cantlay said. "We both had some opportunities to save some pars and make some putts that we didn't make this year. Coming down the stretch, I just hit a poor drive on 18 and put him in a bad spot. That was kind of the story of the week. We didn't necessarily hit all the great shots when we needed to." Grade: C

6. Keith Mitchell/Sungjae Im (-25): After getting into a share of the lead with an opening birdie, these two failed to set up realistic birdie opportunities on a consistent basis. Both players were to blame as loose shots off the tee from Mitchell handcuffed Im and poor iron shots from Im left Mitchell in a pickle. Still, if there was a team that would be classified as a winner despite not raising hardware, it is these two. Seemingly becoming best friends out of thin air, Im and Mitchell cultivated a bromance few expected. Grade: B

T7. Si Woo Kim/Tom Kim (-23): The International Presidents Cup teammates from Quail Hollow were unable to capture the same type of magic at TPC Louisiana. They acquitted themselves quite nicely in foursomes with rounds of 67-68, but similar to Cantlay and Schauffele, were unable to produce enough fireworks in Rounds 1 and 3. After both got off to scorching starts to the 2022-23 season with victories, perhaps this week will act as a launchpad for the final few months of the year as their quality has dropped ever so slightly. Grade: C

MC. Collin Morikawa/Max Homa (--): The Californians were never able to get things going around TPC Louisiana as they followed a round of 6 under in four-ball with a 2-under 70 in foursomes to miss the cut by one. Despite their pedigree, it was always going to be difficult for this team to compete in this shootout style given Morikawa's shortcomings with the putter in hand and Homa's lackluster tee to green presence over the last month. Morikawa carried the brunt of the weight and should be able to brush this missed cut off. Meanwhile, Homa may be different as his struggles since the Florida Swing have continued to persist. Grade: F

Source: CBS Sports


Meet the Seven Amateurs Invited to LPGA's First Major

World No. 3 Saki Baba headlines the seven amateurs who will tee it up in the Chevron Championship, the first LPGA major of the year. The 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion will make her debut in the April 20-23 event, held for the first time at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands, Texas.

While the championship no longer overlaps with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, it does conflict with several NCAA conference championships. The Pac-12 and American Athletic Conference championships end on April 19 while the Big Ten, the Big 12 and several others end Sunday, April 23.

Top-ranked amateur Rose Zhang, who recently won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, will aim for her 10th college title at the Pac-12 Championship rather than make another major championship start.

Here’s the full list of amateurs in the field:

Japan’s Baba made her major championship debut last summer at the U.S. Women’s Open where she made the cut and tied for 49th. Baba tied for 34th at the LPGA event in Thailand earlier this year. She also tied for 16th on the JLPGA last month. Baba won the U.S. Women’s Amateur with a crushing 11-and-9 victory over Monet Chun.

USC’s Amari Avery, No. 11 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, will make her Chevron debut after receiving a sponsor invitation. The 19-year-old will head to Texas directly from the Pac-12s on Wednesday and will tee it up without having played any kind of practice round. Avery received the invitation too late to make the trip in advance of this week.

UCLA’s Zoe Campos earned her way into the field by claiming the Chevron Silverado Showdown earlier this month. With the victory, Campos became the first Bruin since 2019 to win multiple titles in a season. Campos will also head to The Woodlands directly from the Pac-12 Championship, which ends Wednesday and will tee it up without a practice round.

Taiwan’s Ting-Hsuan Huang will make her LPGA and major debut at The Chevron. The 2022 Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific champion also secured starts in this year’s AIG Women’s British Open and Amundi Evian Championship. The 18-year-old recently finished 22nd at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

England’s Jess Baker earned her spot in the field by winning the 2022 Women’s British Amateur. The UCF player will finish up her conference championship on Wednesday in Florida and fly straight to Texas for the first round of the Chevron. She did her prep work in the weeks leading up to the championship. 

Source: usatoday.com