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Posted April 14, 2019 06:04 pm
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Koepka's fight lands him one shot short

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While standing on the 17th tee box and ready to hit his drive, Brooks Koepka was forced to step away from his ball.

Chaos had broken out, from the fans surrounding the 16th green to those closest to him, as Tiger Woods’ nearby tee shot was rolling within four feet of the pin on the hole behind him.

Even Koepka turned to watch the drama before getting back into the moment and calmly hitting his tee shot, knowing his quest for a fourth major just became a lot more difficult.

“You knew it was going to be close when it hit. I thought it might go in for a second, it looked like it from my angle," Koepka said. "But it was a good shot, and that basically won him the tournament right there.”

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But it wasn’t without a fight from Koepka, who came within a couple of shots of winning his first Masters. He finished at 12-under-par 276 and a three-way tie for second place, one stroke behind Woods. Koepka was 2-under for the day, capping his best Masters showing with four rounds under par.

“That was probably the coolest back nine in a major championship I've ever been a part of, or just in golf in general,” said Koepka, who had never finished in the top 10 at the Masters.

Koepka made a charge after starting the day three shots behind leader Francesco Molinari, catching the leaders on the back nine before Woods surpassed them all.

“I played exactly how I wanted to play,” Koepka said. “Didn’t really miss too many shots. So proud of the way I played, the way I fought back, especially after that double and tried to give him a run.”

Koepka was one of four players in the final two groups whose tee shot at the par-3, 155-yard 12th hole hit the bank and bounced back into Rae’s Creek.

He could have folded after that 9-iron. Instead, he might have had the most impressive bounce-back of his career with an eagle on the par-5 13th.

“Obviously was a little annoyed that I had just made double on 12 and kind of knew that I had to make something happen if I ever wanted to (challenge) Tiger or whoever was in the lead at that point, because I think there was about four people tied for the lead,” he said. “So took an aggressive line off the tee, hit it down there, hit an 8‑iron in to about 20 feet and was able to sneak that in, which I thought was extremely big at the time."

Koepka had a chance to put some pressure on Woods if he could birdie No. 18, but his putt from 11 feet rolled past the left edge of the hole.

“I thought if I could get to 13 (under) … or 14 was going to win it,” Koepka said. “It changed hands about, what, five times? Everybody was kind of going up and then down, up and down again.

“It was amazing to be a part of. It was quite fun.”