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What do Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and K.H. Lee have in common? As of Sunday, they’re the only golfers in history to win the AT&T Byron Nelson multiple years in a row. Lee followed in the footsteps of some of the best players in history and held off some of the best of his own generation to finish at 26 under and win at TPC Craig Ranch for the second consecutive year.
It took a 63 from Lee on Sunday – the lowest round of his career – to ward off Jordan Spieth (2nd), Hideki Matsuyama (T3), Justin Thomas (T5) and Xander Schauffele (T5). Incredibly, it wasn’t the best round of the day Sunday at the Nelson, nor was it the best round of those players listed. Schauffele dropped a 61 early on to set the clubhouse number at 23 under before Matsuyama reset it at 24 under following his own 62.
Lee was nails throughout, though. He went out in 31 on the front nine before making an eagle on No. 12 after hitting a 240-yard approach to 5 feet. Two more birdies followed – including one at the last – but it was actually a par (which at times this week felt rarer than birdies and eagles) that will go down as biggest moment of the day.
With Spieth (and the entirety of the city of Dallas) surging behind him, Lee had 12 feet for par after an awkward chip shot that he couldn’t get close to the hole. Spieth strode to the 17th tee box where he watched everything play out in front of him, and Lee buried the putt to maintain a one-stroke lead going to the last hole.
“He shot… 9 under,” Spieth said of Lee. “We had it blowing 15 to 18 [miles per hour] our last 10 or 11 holes, so that score this afternoon, especially the last closing stretch of holes is just a phenomenal score.”
Spieth and Lee both birdied that 72nd, and Lee disappointed a gallery hoping to Spieth win his hometown tournament for the first time and Spieth licking his wounds before he goes for the career grand slam next week at the PGA Championship.
For Lee, it was unexpected based on his recent play but not on his history at this course. Lee is now 51 under combined over two years here and even though he only had one top 10 between last year’s win and this year’s win, he’s going to be hard to pick against at TPC Craig Ranch in the future. He might never be among the greats he’s now listed alongside in the record books when it comes to the totality of his career. But as it relates to beating the best in the world for one week in Texas, nobody has done it better over the last two years at this event. As it relates to winning one of the low-key best tournaments of the year to date, K.H. Lee belongs.
Here are the rest of our grades for the AT&T Byron Nelson.
2. Jordan Spieth (-25): If there’s a moment Spieth will look back on, it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t be 10th hole where he three-putted from 7 feet. It looked for a bit as if he was going to take control of the golf tournament at that moment, and instead, retrospectively, it was probably where he lost it.
“I look back on 10, had a pretty good look at birdie and just got a little too aggressive and hit it through the first break.,” Spieth said. “Then I kind of got in my own head in the wind there on the second one and missed about a 3- or 4-footer which to go from thinking I was going to make birdie to making bogey, I mean that’s obviously a big swing. But I played the holes from there exactly how they were supposed to be played. Grabbed three more birdies and it just wasn’t quite good enough.”
Still, he’s finished first and second in two starts since the Masters and also first and second in strokes gained tee to green in those two outings. He might now tough off the slam next week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, because the putter (especially on short ones) is dicey, but he’s going to make for a hell of an out in the process, and, just as was the case this week at TPC Craig Ranch, the best entertainment in the sport. Grade: A
T3. Hideki Matsuyama (-24): It was another nasty finish in a season full of them for Matsuyama who shot 62 by making eagle at the last. I didn’t think this was a particularly great place for him this week because of how great he is on difficult courses (not sure if anyone noticed, but this was not a difficult course), but it could be a harbinger for next week’s PGA at Southern Hills. He’s hitting the ball very well (fourth in strokes gained tee to green), and the only thing that has disrupted a fabulous Matsuyama season has been an injury that he labored through before the Masters. Other than that, he has a pair of wins, a top 15 at the Masters and five top 10 finishes that could be punctuated by contention next weekend in Tulsa. Grade: A
Finishing with finesse ????
Eagle on the 72nd hole for Hideki Matsuyama.
He’s the clubhouse leader at -24. pic.twitter.com/S2xBT3yWOk
T5. Xander Schauffele (-23): When Schauffele ended his final round, he was the solo leader and 100-1 to win the tournament. You don’t see that very often, but Schauffele went out early and dropped a nasty 61 that rocketed him up the leaderboard but unfortunately left too little ground for the rest of the field to cover while he sat in the clubhouse. He ultimately dropped from the top of the board as everyone knew he would, but it was a nice Sunday performance to be able to take into next week’s PGA Championship at Southern Hills. Grade: A-
Xander Schauffele played his last 50 holes this week in 26-under-par with 0 bogeys
T5. Justin Thomas (-23): J.T. was 2 over through his first seven holes Thursday and 14 back of the lead before playing the last 65 holes in 25 under under to get himself into contention. He failed to bring it all the way back around and take over the tournament on Sunday, but his golf was nonetheless impressive after those first seven holes in Round 1. J.T. failed to take advantage of what was a really strong putting week at TPC Craig Ranch, however he’s now in perfect position for next week to make a run at what would be the second major championship of his career at a place that will value what he does best, which is hit towering irons into tiny silos. Grade: A-
Final leaderboard @ATTByronNelson:
1. K.H. Lee -26 ????????
2. @JordanSpieth -25
T3. Hideki Matsuyama -24
T5. @XSchauffele -23
8. @CA_Schwartzel -22
T9. @PeterMalnati -21
T9. @JamesHahnPGA pic.twitter.com/7qivl0e2ZY
Now two-time TOUR winner K.H. Lee meets with the media after defending @ATTByronNelson ???? https://t.co/WLSygX0FeA
A Sunday stroll for @TigerWoods.
Scenes from his practice round at Southern Hills, site of this week’s PGA Championship. pic.twitter.com/5juPbuIAio
“Feels like [a] dream again like last year. With my family and my wife and then also my daughter, it’s [an] amazing feeling.”
—K.H. Lee on his career-low round to win @attbyronnelson in 2022 pic.twitter.com/CHzAYq8T7D
K.H. Lee goes back-to-back at the AT&T Byron Nelson ???????? pic.twitter.com/T2hnBf6ZQP
First win as a father ❤️️ pic.twitter.com/IuHZ4sTD3b
K.H. LEE IS THE BACK-TO-BACK @attbyronnelson CHAMPION ???? pic.twitter.com/QSIGrYxmMG
K.H. Lee: 1st player in PGA Tour history to go back-to-back at a tournament with a score of -25 or lower each year.
Fourth player to go back-to-back at the @attbyronnelson joining Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.
K.H. Lee defends his title! ????????
Jordan Spieth will have to hole the pitch to force a playoff. pic.twitter.com/zeLHwSN8eI
Last 2 to get 1st 2 PGA Tour wins going back-to-back at the same event:
Justin Thomas, CIMB Classic, 2015-16
Daniel Berger, FedEx St Jude, 2016-17 https://t.co/RxxDjc1gDY
Lee bridies the last to finish at -26, and Spieth will have a long chip (or putt) for eagle to try and tie him up.
His lowest round on TOUR ????
9-under 63 gives K.H. Lee a two-shot lead. pic.twitter.com/XRjdfUmB7v
Defending @attbyronnelson champion K.H. Lee finishes this year’s Final Round at 26-under-par. pic.twitter.com/URUMSqkUd5
Remarkable comeback complete with major ????@stevestricker goes wire-to-wire to win the @RegionsTrad by 6 for his first win since his return from illness. pic.twitter.com/aEOjF82sOL
Lee needs birdie at the last to card 63 today.
Last player to shoot 63 or lower in the final round of a successful PGA Tour title defense: Jimmy Walker, 2015 Sony Open.
K.H. Lee with a HUGE putt. @attbyronnelson pic.twitter.com/oHq6dds6uT
Scottie Scheffler hit the brakes on this pitch ???? pic.twitter.com/9PP877ymHb
He can’t be stopped!@stevestricker holes out from the bunker at @RegionsTrad! pic.twitter.com/XSrd7JT2tB
Wow, Spieth hits a shot on 17 that never leaves the pin. He’ll have 10 feet to tie it up, but Lee pumps one down the middle on No. 18.
Lee makes, and he’s up one on Spieth going to 18. Here’s the board.
Lee: -25 (17)
Spieth: -24 (16)
Matsuyama: -24 (F)
Munoz: -24 (16)
JT: -23 (17)
Xander: -23 (F)
Lee now looking at bogey on No. 16 while Spieth is struggling through No. 15 and has a mid-sized putt for par, which he drills. Big time. If Lee misses on No. 17, they’ll be tied at -24 along with Sebastian Munoz and Hideki Matsuyama.
4th birdie in the last 7 holes. @JSMunozGolf remains in the hunt and is 1 back. pic.twitter.com/GRaXoP3o3e
K.H. Lee won the 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson at -25.
He currently leads the 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson at -25.
No player in PGA Tour history has won the same 72-hole stroke play event back-to-back years with a score of -25 or lower.
Two-putt birdie ????@JordanSpieth makes easy work of the drivable 14th to get within 1. pic.twitter.com/qiQiTT4DuR
This putt puts @JordanSpieth 24-under-par and trails K.H. Lee by one stroke. pic.twitter.com/snFrGmmWr7
This putt puts @JordanSpieth to 24-under-par and trails K.H. Lee by one stroke. pic.twitter.com/couU5QqeIi
OK, the stage is set for the last hour here. K.H. Lee is 25 under and in a spot of trouble on the par-3 15th. It’ll take a good two-putt for par from where he’s at. Jordan Spieth is 24 under and heading to the hole Lee is currently on. Those are your two most likely winners, according to Data Golf.
Finishing with finesse ????
Eagle on the 72nd hole for Hideki Matsuyama.
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