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Koepka uses hot putter to seize early lead at Memphis WGC event

Anmerican Brooks Koepka plays his shot from the ninth tee during the first round of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee (AFP Photo/Stacy Revere)
Anmerican Brooks Koepka plays his shot from the ninth tee during the first round of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee (AFP Photo/Stacy Revere)

(AFP)

Defending champion Brooks Koepka appears to have rediscovered his form after shooting a career-tying eight under-62 in the opening round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Thursday.

Koepka is back on track after a knee injury caused him to miss two of the last three cuts in his most recent tournaments.

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He had a hot putter Thursday at the TPC Southwind course, rolling in nine birdies for a two-shot lead over Rickie Fowler and Brendon Todd.

Fowler and Todd both shot a six-under 64 while South Korea’s Kang Sung-hoon is third after a 65.

The 78-player field in Memphis, Tennessee features the top eight players in the official world golf rankings and 45 of the top 50.

Koepka will also be defending his title and aiming for a three-peat at next week’s PGA Championship, the first major of 2020.

Koepka missed the cut at last week’s 3M Open which was won by Michael Thompson. It was his third poor performance in a row. He barely made the cut at the Memorial in Dublin, Ohio, then shot 73-80 on the weekend to tie for 62nd place at 12-over 300. 

He missed the cut the previous week in the Workday Charity Open, played on the same Muirfield Village course as the Memorial.

Spain’s Jon Rahm shot an even par 70 and is tied for 36th in his first tournament as the world number one.

Rahm won the Memorial two weeks ago to overtake Rory McIlroy and climb atop the rankings for the first time, becoming the first Spaniard since Seve Ballesteros to hold the top spot.

This was the week scheduled for the men’s Summer Olympic golf tournament in Japan.

Now Koepka is finding his form at just the right time in the season which was shutdown for three months because of the global pandemic. 

The Tour is entering its busiest phase with this WGC event, next week’s PGA Championship in San Francisco, three weeks of US PGA FedEx Cup playoff events and the US Open on September 17-20 at Winged Foot near New York.

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