Written by Staff Writer
Jack Crawford-Winston, CNN
Fourteen holes tied. Four straight birdies and the winning birdie.
“Yea! That was pretty good,” Koepka said as he spoke of his winning display. “That guy is a fighter, for sure.”
“When I won the US Open in June I said I wanted to win the two and win them on the same golf course,” Koepka said. “And I accomplished that. But no offence, couldn’t have won the US Open without Dustin being here, so he was happy to see me win.”
Round 1 of The Match, the richest match in golf history, saw highly touted DeChambeau hold his own against the reigning US Open champion at TPC Boston on Monday.
The Match, on Golf Channel, showed Koepka getting off to a flying start in front of a packed gallery. He made birdies on the second, fourth and sixth to reduce DeChambeau’s advantage to two strokes.
The American, sitting at 2-under for the round and still one ahead of DeChambeau at 7-under overall, responded by birdying the next three holes to go three ahead and lapped the field by teeing off on the fifth for the final round.
Koepka, who took advantage of some exceptional golf during the late stages of the match, when DeChambeau made three bogeys in four holes, rounded off proceedings with four consecutive birdies.
It was the American’s second victory in a one-day match in two months following the US Open title.
“I felt really comfortable out there. Very happy,” said Koepka, who sat in the box following his 2016 PGA Championship victory to watch DeChambeau also win.
“I knew if I kept getting off to good starts I was going to win because he was hitting some great shots.
“I always try to say ‘be consistent,’ but he wasn’t really consistent and was stringing a few bad holes together. So I kept trying to be on my game, shoot a good number and give him a good chance to get back in the match.”
DeChambeau was disappointed at losing the opening frame but remarkably pleased with his own performance.
“I was 5-over and I thought I’d already gotten some bad breaks,” DeChambeau said. “But I didn’t choke. I had a chance for a win. That’s awesome. I can’t complain about how I played.”
DeChambeau’s victory on Monday was his fifth in seven career US PGA events, a sequence highlighted by victories in the Players Championship and the Valspar Championship, with Koepka missing a major when he finished a shot short at last year’s US Open.
The Match is staged for the second year in a row in TPC Boston, where DeChambeau already holds the 72-hole scoring record of 264, having carded 264 at the course in the 2014 NCAA championship.
The Match is a winner-takes-all money-line contest — Koepka earned $1.7 million for taking the first round victory — with eight total players traveling from America to earn a cut of the remaining earnings.
Dockendorf said it was “remarkable to see so many top players with a level of class and courage that matches up with the tough golf course they are playing.”