30th of May, 2021
PGATOUR.COM’s Sean Martin contributed to this article.
Jason Kokrak shot an even-par 70 in the final round of the 2021 Charles Schwab Challenge to win his second PGA TOUR title of the season by two shots at 14-under par.
FORT WORTH, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — Jason Kokrak won his first PGA TOUR win after more than 200 starts. The next victory came much more quickly, but it was no less difficult. To win at a legendary venue, he had to outduel a future World Golf Hall of Famer on his home grounds.
Kokrak won the Charles Schwab Challenge after playing alongside Jordan Spieth for the final 36 holes in front of a packed house in Fort Worth. A tartan jackel was among his prizes for winning at Colonial, which has hosted the PGA TOUR for 75 years.
After the triumph, Kokrak commented, “I’m a huge guy with a big truck, a large jacket, and a huge paycheck.”
In October, he won THE CJ CUP AT SHADOW CREEK with a final-round 64. It was his 233rd start since joining the TOUR in 2012.
This time, an even-par 70 was enough to give him a two-shot victory against Jordan Spieth. Kokrak took second place with a score of 14-under 266 (65-65-66-70), giving Spieth his third runner-up finish in this event. In 2016, Spieth also won at Colonial.
By winning, Kokrak became the only player this season to win multiple times, joining Bryson DeChambeau and Stewart Cink. Kokrak moved up to fifth place in the FedExCup standings, sealing his spot in the TOUR Championship for the second time (he advanced to East Lake in 2012).
“Every year, all I try to do is grow better,” he remarked. “This isn’t a one-hit wonder.”
The 36-year-career old’s has risen to new heights because to his improved putting. After finishing 151st in Strokes Gained: Putting last season, he is now fifth. His average position in that metric during the previous nine seasons on TOUR was 124th.
He attributes that aspect of his game to his caddy, former Korn Ferry Tour player David Robinson. Robinson is an expert on the greens and was the one who suggested to Kokrak last year that he convert to a longer putter.
“Ever since we started dating four years ago, I’ve called him up and told him, ‘Listen, this is going to be a fun ride,’” Kokrak added. “I’m a decent ball striker, and you’re an excellent green reader. We’ll form a great team.”
Kokrak’s strength has always been his ability to strike the ball. It’s what got him on the PGA TOUR in the first place, and it’s what kept him there for a decade, even when his putting was a liability. This week, he won with a ball-striking display worthy of Hogan’s Alley.
Kokrak was first in the field in both strokes gained off the tee (+6.2) and driving distance (321.8 yards), and fourth in fairways hit (41 of 56, 73.2 percent ). He was also second in regulation greens, hitting 54 of 72. (75 percent ).
A vital influence was also played by the putter. This week, he was ninth in Strokes Gained: Putting.
After bogeying the first hole on Sunday, Kokrak gained his first lead of the day by sinking a 23-foot birdie putt on the fifth hole. He kept his lead by sinking a 10-foot birdie putt on the next hole after Spieth had stuffed a wedge near to the hole. Spieth then stiffed another wedge on No. 9 to tie Kokrak going into the back nine. Kokrak, on the other hand, nailed a 13-foot birdie putt on 11 and a 17-foot birdie putt from the fringe two holes later to take a two-shot lead with five holes to play.
However, things did not get any easier from there. After bogeying the 15th hole, both players hit their tee shots into greenside bunkers on the next hole. Spieth jumped up and down. Kokrak, on the other hand, did not. As Spieth pulled within one with two holes to go, the crowd erupted in applause. After Kokrak missed his par putt, Spieth had to wave his arms up and down to quiet the crowd.
Both players also missed the 17th green. After his approach from under a tree didn’t cut sufficiently, Kokrak was left on the greenside bunker. He saved par with a 7-footer, while Spieth made his 6-footer to stay a stroke behind.