ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Brooks Koepka became the first multiple winner in LIV Golf when he closed with a 3-under 68, making a 4-foot par putt on the final hole for a one-shot victory over Sebastian Munoz.
LIV Golf-Orlando came one week before Koepka and 17 other players in the Saudi-funded league go to Augusta National for the Masters.
“Going into next week, that’s what you want to see,” Koepka said, who finished at 15-under 198 at Orange County National.
Munoz was trying to stay with Koepka along the back nine and didn’t go away easily. He fell two shots behind when he sent a bunker shot flying over the green at the par-5 14th. And while he did well to scramble for par, Koepka made a short birdie.
Munoz bounced back by holing a chip for birdie on the 16th to cut the deficit to one. But on the par-5 17th, the easiest hole at Orange County, the Colombian again hit a bunker shot over the green. He made another par, and Koepka gave him hope by missing a 5-foot birdie.
The final hole shed some insight into the team component of LIV Golf.
Koepka and Munoz both were about 40 feet away for birdie. Koepka went first and left the putt just over 4 feet away. Munoz needed to make birdie to force a playoff. However, his Torque team had a one-shot lead over the Smash team led by Koepka.
If he were to hit the putt too hard and three-putt for bogey, Munoz might have cost Torque the team title. He left it just under 4 feet short, and made the par for Torque to win a team competition for the first time.
“It’s weird, because I knew we were one stroke ahead on the team, so I couldn’t go extra. I knew I couldn’t be too aggressive,” Munoz said.
“He got the individual, we got the team. I call it a tie.”
Patrick Reed (68) and Dean Burmester (64) tied for third.
It might not feel like a tie for Koepka’s bank account. He won $4 million for willing. Koepka’s previous LIV title was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia last year.
He had been battling various injuries for nearly two years and feels as though he is healthy for the first time in years as he goes to Augusta.
“You look at everything I’ve been through, I’m finally healthy,” he said. “It’s good to play some good golf. I get chills thinking what I’m capable of.”
Koepka said Orange County National, formerly used for the PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament, was a good test for the Masters because the greens were fast and burned out, and the pins were some slopes.
“If I would have hit a few putts harder, it would have easier,” he said of the tight finish with Munoz. “I’m just happy to win.”