Okay.H. Lee once more takes benefit of extremely low-scoring AT&T Byron Nelson forward of PGA Championship 2022

MCKINNEY, Texas — Twelve months in the past, when Okay.H. Lee stood on the 18th inexperienced at TPC Craig Ranch getting ready to win the 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson, historical past was being made. His profitable rating of 25 beneath for the event was the bottom within the historical past of an occasion outlined by low scoring in recent times. Twelve months later, Lee not solely discovered himself internet hosting the trophy once more however cashing a a lot bigger $1.5 million verify for his efforts.

This time, on a crystal clear afternoon with temperatures that flirted with triple digits, Lee joined a trio of golf royalty — Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and the late Sam Snead — as repeat winners of the Byron Nelson after dazzling as soon as once more within the PGA Tour’s first cease of the North Texas swing.

“It is superb,” Lee stated of the feat. “I am unable to consider it. Simply hopefully folks bear in mind my identify.”

They definitely will bear in mind Lee in Lone Star State golf circles as he held off a stacked leaderboard that includes the likes of Justin Thomas, Joaquin Neimann, 54-hole chief Sebastian Munoz and hometown favourite Jordan Spieth.

Nonetheless, it was beating his personal rating from a 12 months in the past that proved to be a very powerful edge in Lee’s sport.

Lee fired a 9-under 63 within the last spherical for a profitable rating of 26 beneath, besting his personal Bryon Nelson event file from 2021 by a single stroke. He held off Spieth by one because of some clutch putts aided by a current change of kit. 

Having just lately made the change to an Odyssey O-Works 2-ball fang putter, Lee doubtless discovered his new favourite membership as soon as Sunday’s spherical got here to a detailed. Needing up-and-downs for par on each the par-4 sixteenth and par-3 seventeenth to keep up an outright lead, Lee sunk putts of roughly 6 ft and 12 ft to carry his edge. He carded a birdie on the reachable par-5 18th to set the brand new event scoring file.

“[I changed putters] after I arrange not sq. — typically closed, typically open — a pair months in the past,” Lee stated. “However I attempted an enormous head, two-ball putter that makes it look extra sq. [and] simpler to verify for after I line up. It is extra sq., after which that is what helped with my stroke.”

A prayer or two additionally might have assisted, particularly on No. 17.

“I do know it is an important putt to make,” Lee stated. “Jordan and a whole lot of guys are coming only one [group] behind, and I do know a whole lot of guys made a birdie at 18. So, I would like[ed] to make the putt. … I prayed after which made the putt.”

Whereas Lee sunk the putts that mattered because the breeze picked up on the again 9, Spieth noticed key probabilities go by the wayside. There was an unlikely three-putt bogey on the par-4 tenth, a miscue Spieth blamed on the wind. He later had two prime probabilities to tying Lee for the lead, however an eagle putt inside 15 ft on the par-5 twelfth burned the sting, and Spieth was unable to card birdie on the par-3 seventeenth after his tee shot settled inside 9 ft of the pin. 

“We had [the wind] blowing 15-18 [mph] our final 10 or 11 holes, so [Lee’s 63] this afternoon, particularly the final closing stretch of holes, is only a phenomenal rating,” Spieth stated. “I feel, when the day began, I might have needed to be at 25 beneath standing on the 18th tee. So, I had an opportunity to try this with that putt on 17 and simply form of, it was simply pumping into [the wind], and it simply dove throughout the outlet.”

Rick Gehman, Kyle Porter, Greg DuCharme and Mark Immelman recap the AT&T Byron Nelson and lookahead to the PGA Championship at Southern Hills. Observe & take heed to The First Lower on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Some gamers anticipated the course would present its enamel greater than it did final Could, however that wasn’t the case. Lee’s win marked the fourth consecutive time a file rating was set or matched on the Byron Nelson, even with a change in course a pair years in the past.

Sunday’s festivities featured some golfers making unlikely runs to the highest in an try to steal the highlight. Xander Schauffele opened Sunday 9 pictures off the lead earlier than charging with a 9-under 61 that in the end resulted in an inconceivable top-five end at 23 beneath. 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama dazzled with a 10-under 62; he spent a portion of the afternoon tied for the lead earlier than ending T3.

Given their early begins, time wasn’t on their sides. Schauffele made it clear he didn’t intend to attend within the clubhouse because the chief given the scoring traits at Craig Ranch and the way a lot golf others had left to play.

“It form of appears to be the pattern out right here on Tour,” he stated.. “You suppose 6 [under] or 7 beneath is an effective spherical, which it’s, however some man will shoot 9 [under] or 10 beneath after which swiftly you are sitting they’re saying, OK, I assume that is form of what the brand new par is.'”

Thomas equally did not see a lot to brag about Saturday when he shot an 8-under 64 within the third spherical earlier than firing a Sunday 67 to complete T5 with Schauffele and Ryan Palmer. Nonetheless, contending one week forward of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills is one thing about which Thomas and others in his camp will not complain.

“I simply am not doing something particular,” Thomas stated Saturday. “I am removed from my greatest stuff. I am managing my sport properly. … Typically it is enjoyable once you’re capable of be in competition in a event with out your greatest stuff.”

Similar goes for Spieth. He now heads to the PGA Championship posting first- and second-place finishes throughout his final two begins. Whereas Sunday marked his greatest end on the Byron Nelson since first showing in 2010 as a senior at Dallas Jesuit, he is nonetheless hungry to win his hometown event. 

“I like taking part in at residence,” Spieth stated. “I might like to win it some day. … It could be good to shut one out. However, once more, [I] shot 5 beneath; [it] wasn’t taking part in simple right now, and [Lee] went out and shot 9 beneath proper in entrance of us. So, typically that occurs.”

With three years nonetheless remaining on Craig Ranch’s contract as Byron Nelson host, the event previous golf’s second main of the season is unlikely to lose its fast-growing status as a birdie fest.

“The greens are pure … [and] we’re getting an ideal lie each time within the fairway,” stated James Hahn, who shot an 11-under 61 Saturday and completed T9 at 21 beneath. “So long as you are within the fairway, I really feel like each gap is usually a birdie alternative.”

In the long run, no participant capitalized on these “72 birdie alternatives” greater than Lee, who carded 25 of them plus two eagles en path to his victory. And identical to 2021, Lee enters golf’s second main on a victorious notice.

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