Brooks Koepka joined some elite company Sunday when he won the 100th PGA Championship in record fashion at Bellerive Country Club.
Koepka made consecutive birdies at Nos. 15 and 16 to emerge from a tie and parred the final two holes for a two-shot victory. He finished with a 4-under 66, giving him the scoring record, at 16-under 264.
It was the third major championship victory for Koepka, who previously won the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Opens. He is only the fifth player to win the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in the same year, the first since Tiger Woods. Koepka, 28, is the sixth player to win three majors before turning 30. Of his four victories, three have been major championships.
“I think my focus … I don’t know what it is, but I need to take it over to regular TOUR events, too,” Koepka said. “Every shot is so important when you’re out here grinding away, firing at flags, firing at the middle of greens, you have to be very patient and I do a pretty good job of that.”
Woods excited the crowds when he moved within one shot of the lead before an untimely bogey at No. 14 stopped his momentum. He shot a 6-under 64, his lowest numerical score in a major championship and placed second, at 14-under 266.
The overflowing galleries were pro-Woods, often leaving the lead group to play in relative quiet. Woods, who birdied the final hole, waved to the gallery and gave a thumbs-up sign to the crowd as he walked to the scoring area following his round.
“I played hard,” Woods said. “A bit of a struggle with my game today. Hung in there, grinded it out and tried to make as many birdies as possible.”
Woods has not won a major since 2008, but he had a share of the lead on the final nine holes at The Open Championship and knocked on the door again at this week’s PGA.
“I contended in the last two major championships, and I never would have foreseen that a year ago,” Woods said. “It feels special to be here.”
The next goal for Woods is to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team as a player. He was part of the 2016 team as an assistant captain.
Finishing third was Adam Scott, who was tied with Koepka at 14-under after the 13th hole. But the Australian, who needed a special invitation just to get into the field, finished par-bogey to drop into third place. It tied for his best finish in this event. He tied for third in 2006. He has five top-10 PGA Championship finishes overall, and this is his first top-five in a major since he tied for fourth at the 2014 U.S. Open.
“I was hitting it really good out there, especially on the back nine,” Scott said. “It was fun to be in it. Missed putts on 14 and 15, and Brooks made them and my momentum was gone.”
Tied for fourth at 11-under 269 were Stewart Cink, who shot 67, and Spaniard Jon Rahm, who shot 68.
Tied at sixth at 10-under were Francesco Molinari (67), Thomas Pieters (66), second-round leader Gary Woodland (69) and defending champion Justin Thomas (68).
Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain and Tyrrell Hatton of England were paired together and began their final round as the second group off the No. 1 tee. Feeding off each other’s momentum, they were each able to shoot 64 and post a 9-under number in the clubhouse. They tied for 10th.
Koepka’s season becomes more amazing considering he started the year with a wrist injury that prevented him from playing for nearly three months and kept him out of the Masters Tournament, the first major championship of the campaign.
“Going from not even being sure I was going to be able to play again, to play this year, to play the same way, to come back out … it’s mind-boggling,” Koepka said. “I don’t have an answer for it. I’m glad it happened.”
Koepka was even able to tune out the noise when Woods or one of the other players made a great shot—the gallery responding, in kind.
“I could hear all the roars,” he said. “When Tiger started making his little run and Scotty made his run, it got loud. It was fun.”
Koepka moved to third place in the FedExCup standings and Woods moved to No. 20.
About the Author
V Krishnaswamy is India's most widely travelled journalist. He has covered more than 20 Majors, Presidents Cup, EurAsia Cup and more than 120 international golf tournaments around the world. He has also covered seven Olympic Games, 8 Asian Games and 6 Commonwealth Games besides numerous World Championships in various sports.