McKINNEY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — KH Lee ran down the fairway to try to get a better view of the key shot in his second straight victory at the Byron Nelson.
Lee held off several rivals, including some North Texas natives.
The South Korean must have known he would be close, as did the low-scoring drama surrounding him that included local favorite Jordan Spieth and a couple of other big winners in Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas.
Lee’s 240-yard shot at the par-5 12th hole came to a stop less than 5 feet from the pin, and the eagle put him in front for good Sunday en route to a nine-under-par 63 and a win by a hit on Spieth at birdie. -sited TPC Craig Ranch.
Spieth shot a 67 to finish a shot ahead of Matsuyama (62) and Sebastián Munoz (69), who held or shared the lead the first three rounds. Xander Schauffele had a career-best 61 and was tied for fifth with Ryan Palmer (66) and Thomas (67).
A year ago, Lee was playing for a spot at the PGA Championship, where he will be again next week at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
This time it was for a place in history as the 30-year-old joined Sam Snead (1957-58), Jack Nicklaus (1970-71) and Tom Watson (1978-80) as the only repeat winners at the Nelson . Lee finished at 26 under par, a shot better than last year.
Spieth had to settle for another career-best result at the event he so desperately wanted to win, a year after the three-time Grand Slam champion came ninth but never really came close in a disappointing final round.
This last round was very close.
Leading by one, Lee made a par-saving 12-foot curveball putt on the par-3 17 after a short chip lengthened as Lee tried to find his footing in the sand with the ball on his feet just outside the bunker.
Spieth missed a 9-foot birdie putt on the 17th that would have tied it, then had to eagle on the par-5 18th after Lee’s birdie. Spieth’s eagle chip stayed to the left of the hole.
With short par 4s and achievable par 5s, the birdies never stopped at TPC Craig Ranch, home to the Nelsons for the second year.
There were 2,228 birdies after 2,007 a year ago, which was the most on the Tour last season. Eagles also abounded. Last year, six players reached 20 under par. This time it was 2:00 p.m.
Even missed chances at eagles were costly, like at No. 12 when Munoz’s 6-foot shot circled the cup and missed, leaving him a stroke behind shortly after Lee followed up his crucial shot by making the short putt.
Schauffele built a clubhouse lead at 23 under with a birdie on the 18th just as the latter groups were turning around. The 12th-ranked player said he didn’t plan to stay long with the birdies and eagles so abundant at Craig Ranch.
He was free to go after the 18-year-old Matsuyama eagle put the 2021 Masters champion a shot ahead. Still, Schauffele’s turnaround was notable in his first event since he teamed with Patrick Cantlay to win the Zurich Classic.
The reigning Olympic champion went 26-under over the last 49 holes, starting with eight birdies from No. 6 onwards in the second round to come back from 3-up and make the cut at number (5-under). He started the final round nine shots behind.
Schauffele holed a 97-yard eagle wedge on the short par-4 sixth and then added eight birdies over the last 11 holes for the third score of 61 or better this week. Muñoz opened with his second 60 of the season, his first on tour.
“There was no pressure to get a low score,” Schauffele said. “The leaders are expected to shoot at least five or six (under) to keep up. So I was literally just trying to birdie as many holes as possible while also being smart.”
Justin Lower recorded the second of two aces in the round on the stadium stage on the 17th, hitting a low 9-iron from 135 yards just to the right of the pin before the ball backed up and rolled inside.
Marc Leishman made the first hole in one on the 213-yard 15, he hit a short 7-iron and watched it roll. He was Leishman’s second career ace and first at the Nelson since Tyler Duncan in 2018.