Koepka holds off Woods to claim third Major
Ohio, August 12: Brooks Koepka held off the challenges of a resurgent Tiger Woods and Adam Scott to win his second Major of the season at the US PGA Championship.
The two-time defending US Open champion entered day four with a two-shot lead and that was how he ended it but that did not tell the story of a dramatic afternoon at Bellerive Country Club.
Koepka was caught by defending champion Justin Thomas on the front nine and Australian Scott on the way home but kept his cool to record birdies on the 15th and 16th and sign for a 66 to get to 16 under.
Woods’ 64 was his lowest ever final round in a Major and a 15 foot birdie on the last moved him one shot ahead of Scott who finished at 13 under.
Spaniard Jon Rahm and American Stewart Cink were then five shots behind the winner, one clear of Thomas, Open champion Francesco Molinari, Belgian Thomas Pieters and another American in Gary Woodland.
Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello and Englishman Tyrrell Hatton finished off the week tied tenth after both registering bogey-free rounds, with the duo also becoming the first European players to record final rounds of 64 at the PGA Championship.
The victory for Koepka means he is the first man to win the US Open and US PGA Championship in the same year since Woods achieved the feat in 2000 on his way to the ‘Tiger Slam’, and only the fifth person to do it in history.
In winning his third Major, the 2014 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year also becomes the first player to win more than one in a season since Jordan Spieth in 2015, and his aggregate total of 264 is the joint-lowest in Major history – matching Henrik Stenson’s score at the 2016 Open Championship.
“When I look at what I’ve done in the past two months, it’s incredible. Looking where I was, sitting on my couch watching the Masters, and to think I would do this, I would have laughed at you and told you there was no way, no chance, and to do it is really incredible. My doctors, physios, trainers, everybody did an unbelievable job even to get back out on the golf course, and to do what I’ve done is very impressive. I can’t even believe it,” said Koepka.
“I have a lot of self belief. I knew, even today, when everybody was making that charge, if I just hung in there, made one more shot, one good shot at a time, kept it rolling, I knew I was going to have a chance to kind of separate myself maybe a little bit, and that finally came on 15. And then to hit such a good shot on 16, and especially to make the putt when Scotty almost chipped it in. You know, if I missed that, that could be a real role reversal right there.
“I actually never thought about that. Three Majors at 28, it’s a cool feeling. It really is. You know, hopefully I can stay healthy. I’ve kind of had some trouble with that over the past two years, three years, whatever it was. Missed the British and then to miss Augusta. I think I’m much more disciplined now, so I should be able to play every Major, making sure my body’s healthy.
“But I’m excited. I’m excited for the next few years. I mean, I’m a fan of golf. You should be excited. I mean, Tiger’s come back. You look at what Dustin’s doing, Justin, Rory, Spieth. It’s a great time to be a golf fan. I can’t wait to duel it out with them over the next couple years or next however long.”
A resurgent Tiger Woods said: “Well, making that putt at least gave me a chance. At the time I think Scotty was 14, playing 17 and at least I needed to at least tie Scotty. Just in case he posted 14 right behind me. And Brooksy, what he’s doing back there is, it’s tough to beat when the guy hits it 340 down the middle. What he did at Shinnecock, just bombing it, and then he’s doing same thing here. I played with him in a practice round and he was literally hitting it 340, 350 in the air. And when a guy’s doing that and hitting it straight and as good a putter as he is, it’s tough to beat.
“This one I never quite got to the lead. I was always trailing. It was a golf course in which I couldn’t sit still and make pars and be okay with it. I had to keep making birdies. The golf course was soft, it was gettable, and there were a bunch of guys, when I went to the range to start warming up at three under par through six, three under par through seven. And that was, you could see guys shooting five, six under par today and with a bunch of guys around eight under or better starting the day, I had to go get it and I tried.”