K.H. Lee Builds Momentum Heading into Southern Hills
K.H. Lee really likes TPC Craig Ranch.
Lee, who played in his first PGA Championship in 2021 on the heels of his maiden PGA Tour title – the AT&T Byron Nelson – won the Texas event again Sunday after his 9-under 63 in the final round moved him five spots up the leaderboard.
Lee finished at 26 under for the week. His Sunday 63 was his career low on the PGA Tour. Lee came out hot, making five birdies in his first nine holes before knocking his approach on the par-5 12th to less than five feet to setup an eagle. He added birdies on No’s 13 and 18 to get out of reach of the rest of the field.
After becoming the last man in the field at last year’s PGA Championship and missing the cut, Lee said he’s hoping for a better result this time around.
“Just keep momentum well for next week's PGA Championship. Last year, I missed the cut at the PGA Championship. So, my first goal next week is to play well, hopefully make the cut and play well,” said Lee. “And then also keep momentum and try to play well and hopefully this season will be better than last year.”
Lee topped Jordan Spieth – looking to win in his second start in a row on the PGA Tour – by one shot. Spieth had a chance to tie Lee but his eagle chip on the 72nd hole ended up two feet left of the hole.
Hideki Matsuyama shot a 10-under 62 Sunday in his first start since the Masters to finish tied for third with Sebastian Munoz.
While Matsuyama’s double-digit under-par score was impressive, it wasn’t the round of the day. Xander Schauffele fired an 11-under 61 earlier Sunday to finish at 23 under. He was tied for fifth with Ryan Palmer and 2017 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas.
At one point Sunday afternoon eight players were tied for the lead, including Schauffele – who had made the cut at TPC Craig Ranch on the number.
“The leaders are expected to shoot at least five or six (under) to kind of keep pace, based on the scoring average of the upper half of the leaderboard. So, I was literally just trying to birdie as many holes as possible while being smart as well and we were able to do that,” said Schauffele of his Sunday effort.
An argument can be made that Schauffele, who won Olympic gold last year in Tokyo, is the best player on the PGA Tour without a major championship to his name. He’s hoping to change that this week at Southern Hills Country Club, saying the work he was putting in was starting to pay off.
“Just positive things for the game,” said Schauffele. “Seeing the ball go in the hole which is a really important thing before a major.”
Spieth knows a thing or two about what kind of play you need to win a major, and he’ll head into Tulsa with plenty of momentum. Spieth won the RBC Heritage in a playoff over last season’s FedExCup champion Patrick Cantlay and was just one shot short of winning two-straight Tour titles.
If he manages to win the PGA Championship he’ll be the first man to complete the Grand Slam by winning the Wanamaker Trophy. This year will mark Spieth’s sixth attempt to win the Grand Slam.
He said the way he handled short putts was a positive thing he’ll carry over into Tulsa.
“Those putts are really nice to make, those are ones that I just kind of put good fluid strokes (one). More judging line and speed, I was more outwardly focused than stroke focused,” said Spieth. “So that’s really important under pressure as I look into a major.”
While Spieth and Schauffele and Matsuyama made noise Sunday it was Lee who owned the day. In the last year, Lee has only notched three top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour. Two of them, however, have been victories at TPC Craig Ranch.
Last year his wife, Joo Yeon Yu, was pregnant. This year, his daughter, Celine, was there to greet him behind the 72nd hole. It was his first win as a father.
“It’s amazing because last year, with the wife – wife was pregnant. This year (my daughter) is 10 months,” said Lee. “And with my mother and father, whole family's here, so I’m so happy with my family and winning moments. So, it’s nice.”