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What soreness? Koepka makes albatross, shoots 63

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Now in his third start since returning from a long injury layoff, Brooks Koepka mentioned to his caddie Sunday that he hadn’t yet had a tap-in during this comeback.

He did even better at The Players.

With one sweet swing from 208 yards, Koepka dunked his second shot on the par-5 16th hole for an albatross. He tacked on a birdie on 17, then missed a 14-footer on the last that he knew would have given him the course record. Instead, he became the eighth player to shoot 9-under 63 at TPC Sawgrass.

“I’ve been knocking on the door,” he said afterward. “Sometimes when you’re off for four months you come back and need to play a little bit and get some rhythm. It’s nice to finally shoot a low one.”

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This is Koepka’s third start since returning from a torn ligament in his wrist. He re-injured his wrist on the eve of the tournament, when someone in a golf cart drove in front of him on the range and he had to abruptly stop his swing. He said that he felt sore Saturday and was looking forward to a week off before Colonial.

Koepka began the final round 17 shots off the lead, but when he finished his round he had moved all the way into a tie for third. Not that he’ll finish there, not the accessible hole locations and the greens still receptive from the overcast and humid conditions.

As for his second career albatross in competition – his first came during an AJGA event in Tampa – Koepka said he was aiming about 15 feet left of the flag and pushed it.

“I was trying to fire at every flag,” he said. “I mean, what are you going to do? You stay where you are in 60th place, or you start moving up. Today was the day.”