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Lee holds off Spieth for second straight Byron Nelson crown

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Lee Kyoung-hoon fired a career-low nine-under par 63 on Sunday to win the United States (US) PGA Tour Byron Nelson tournament for a second straight year at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas.

South Koreas Lee, who won his first US tour title at the tournament in suburban Dallas last year, made his second victory a successful defense as he erased a four-shot overnight deficit to build a 26-underpar total of 262 and beat three-time major winner Jordan Spieth by one stroke.

“Feels like a dream again, like last year,” said Lee, who was greeted at the 18th green by his wife, Yu Joo-yeon and their baby daughter Celine, who was born weeks after Lee won last year. “It’s an amazing feeling.”

On a windy day north of Dallas, Lee got going early with a 51-foot birdie putt at the second hole.

After a seven-foot birdie at the third he blasted out of a greenside bunker to two feet for birdie at the fifth, then added birdies at six and nine before sticking his approach at the par-five 12th within five feet for an eagle that put him atop the leaderboard.

He added a 14-foot birdie at the 13th, then sealed the victory with a birdie at the par-five 18th – where his 25-foot eagle putt stopped an inch from the cup.

South Korea’s Lee Kyoung-hoon holds up the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament trophy after winning in McKinney, Texas. PHOTO: AP

Lee powered past overnight leader Sebastian Munoz, who began the day at 21-under and one shot in front of Spieth.

Both got off to a slow start with bogeys at the first. Spieth went on to post eight birdies with three bogeys in his five-under 67 while Munoz had four birdies in a 69 that left him tied for third on 264 alongside former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, who charged up the leaderboard with a 10-under-par 62.

Lee preserved his one-shot lead with a gritty par save at the par-three 17th, where his tee shot left him in the left rough with an awkward stance in a bunker. He made a 12-foot putt for the save.

Although Spieth couldn’t come up with an eagle to force a playoff, it was a solid week as he heads to Tulsa, Oklahoma, next week for the PGA Championship where a victory would see him complete a career grand slam.

“It was a good week, good momentum into next week, last two starts being a win and a second,” Spieth said.

“But this one will sting just a little bit just looking back on the day,” added the American, who perhaps regretted most a three-putt bogey at the 10th. “But I played the holes from there exactly how they were supposed to be played,” Spieth said, “grabbed three more birdies and it just wasn’t quite good enough.”

Tokyo Olympic champion Xander Schauffele also finished on a high note. After making the cut on the number last Friday, he had nine birdies and an eagle in his impressive 11-under 61 to share fifth on 265 alongside Justin Thomas and Ryan Palmer.

“(I’m) seeing the ball go in the hole, which is a really important thing before a major,” Schauffele said.