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HOUSTON – “There’s no way I should be standing here,” Jason Kokrak laughed in the moments following his third PGA Tour victory at the Houston Open.
Kokrak’s surprise went well beyond the normal Tour player humility in victory. In fact, it was a mild surprise he even played the event.
“I contemplated actually withdrawing because I was hitting it so bad,” he admitted following his come-from-behind victory over Scottie Scheffler and Kevin Tway.
So bad, in fact, that he told swing coach Drew Steckel “I can’t play.”
“I was on the phone with him [on Tuesday] for nine holes of his practice round,” Steckel said. “He was struggling big time.”
Following an extended range session on Tuesday, while still on the phone with Steckel, Kokrak saw improvement on Wednesday during the pro-am and he managed an under-par round (68) to start the week. But he appeared to unravel early Saturday morning when he returned to Memorial Park to complete his weather-delayed second round with what he called a “debacle.”
With seven holes remaining he went bogey-double bogey-par-bogey and narrowly made the cut after making a triple bogey-7 to finish his round and a back-nine 41.
“Saturday morning I don't know what happened, if I slept too much or whatever. Something happened and I just did not play my best golf,” Kokrak said.
Kokrak rebounded with a third-round 66 and on the eve of the final round Steckel reminded him that he was “just two strokes off the lead.” He pulled away from the field with a flourish on the closing nine Sunday with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 for a two-stroke victory.