2019 AT&T Byron Nelson scores, grades: Sung Kang secures first PGA Tour victory in Dallas
After a 61 on Friday, Kang closed out the field in a marathon Sunday finish
Sung Kang let the field back in the game in the final round of the 2019 AT&T Byron Nelson before ending its collective hopes on the back nine with two spectacular birdie runs, a 67 in the final round and a 23-under total for the tournament to win by two over Matt Every and Scott Piercy.
Kang entered Sunday's finale with a three-stroke lead over Every and at least five on everybody else in the field. But after a start that saw him even par through the first seven holes and the only player on the leaderboard not in red numbers on the day, what once seemed like an inevitability got a little cloudy.
But Kang shined down the stretch like he had all week. He shot a 61 on Friday to take hold of the tournament and found that same game over the final 110 holes on Sunday.
Following the tepid start, he birdied Nos. 8-10 though and ran off another three-hole stretch of birdies on Nos. 14-16 to take a three-stroke lead to the final two holes to close it out. The spot where the tournament turned was probably the par-4 15th hole. Kang made a 23-footer for birdie while Every, who was tied with him at that point, made bogey from the middle of the fairway. A two-shot swing -- the same number of strokes Kang went on to win by.
The win here is easily the biggest of Kang's career. He's been banging out 30 events a year worldwide as a professional since 2011, but his only wins to this point came on the Korean Tour back in 2013. There were close calls on the Web.com and PGA Tour -- Houston and South Korea in 2017, Quicken Loans in 2018 -- but Kang had never sealed the deal until now.
It was a master class in building a lead over the first three days and not having to do too much coming home. Kang was good but not great on Sunday, but good was all he needed to be with such clearance on the rest of the field. "I'm so happy right now," he told CBS Sports' Peter Kostis on the 72nd green after PGA Tour win No. 1. After so many years and over 150 events of futility in the win column on the PGA Tour, I would expect no other emotion. Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for the 2019 AT&T Byron Nelson.
Brooks Koepka (4th): You kind of saw what you needed to see from Koepka this week.
- Top 10 from tee to green: Check.
- Top 10 in putting: Check.
- Get in the mix on Sunday without expending too much PGA energy: Check.
- Take a momentum-building, bogey-free 65 in Round 4 to New York: Check.
- Make sure everything's tuned up before trying to win fourth major next week at Bethpage: Check.
The only negative for Koepka was his short game around these greens where he lost strokes. Everything else looked terrific, and Koepka looks like he should be the favorite to win his second PGA Championship in a row next weekend in New York. Grade: A
Jordan Spieth (T29): The three-time major winner played well early in the event with a 68-67-67 before coming unwound a bit with a 71 in the final round. Again, the issue hasn't really been his ability to score (he finished T6 in birdie average), it's been his inability to avoid mistakes. He made a double bogey in each of his first two rounds and had a total of 10 squares (or worse) on his card which put him in the lower half of the field in that category. Loads of clean up needed for Bethpage next week if Spieth wants to grab the career slam. Grade: B
Tony Romo (MC): Romo shot 76-74 in his first non-opposite field PGA Tour event and beat just four golfers in the field. Still, he counted it as a win because of the experience and because it helped him realize the serious work he's been doing for the last year has him pointed in the proper direction. He even said his playing partner, Dylan Frittelli, noted that he had "a ton of game."
"Really just the ability to continue to improve [is what I'll take away]," said Romo. "I think more than anything, I got a sense to be able to hit a lot of high-quality shots under what is a pressure situation for me.
"That's encouraging and shows that the work you're doing holds up when it counts, and from there you just got to find the little things that allow you to keep things going and not derail the round and I think just small stuff but, technique-wise, we're coming on." Grade: B
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