American Brooks Koepka joined Tiger Woods, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win the US Open and the US PGA Championship in the same season after cruising to comfortable victory at Bellerive Country Club in Missouri.
The 28-year-old from Florida claimed his third major out the last six – he also won last year’s US Open – with a final round 66, and his 16-under-par total was a new record in the 100-year history of the tournament, following earlier rounds of 69, 63 and 65.
Playing in the final group alongside former Masters champion Adam Scott, Koepka played near faultless golf all week on a course that was set up for long bombers. With rain, which caused a long delay to the second round, having softened up the greens, it was darts in golfing form, and Koepka is one of the best there is at this type of game.
Although he was never headed on the final day, Koepka was briefly joined for the lead on the back nine by Scott, who birdied 10, 12 and 13 to join the American on 14 under. But the 2013 Masters champion was unable to maintain his challenge and played the last five holes in one over, while Koepka covered the same ground in two under. A bogey at the last saw Scott hand the runner’s up prize, incredibly, to 42-year-old Tiger Woods, the man that virtually all had written off from contending in a Major again following his long road back from injury.
Starting the final round four shots behind Koepka, Woods, whose last major victory came at the PGA in 2008, covered the front nine in just 32 shots to set up what many fans were hoping would be one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time. For a moment, when he birdied 12 and 13, that looked very much on the cards, but a costly bogey at 14 stalled his Sunday charge, and despite heroic birdies and 15 and 18 for a six-under-par 64, Woods was unable to close the gap on the leader, and came up agonisingly short, as he had done at Carnoustie last month.
Truth be told, Woods did well to get within two, given his wayward game from the tee. He didn’t find a single fairway on the front nine – but as with Tiger Woods 2.0, its not how, it’s how many, and his 266 total was the lowest in his major career to date, win or no win. It’s a fact that will provide small comfort for a player who only measures his success in Ws, but it will surely keep Tiger’s competitive fires burning in the long wait for Augusta next year.
Koepka has had to endure his own share of setbacks in recent years, most recently a wrist injury that forced him to sit out the Masters. It was a fact he dwelt on when reflecting on a season that has catapulted him into star status.
‘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 me back out on the golf course, and to do what I’ve done is very impressive. I can’t even believe it.”
He added: “Three majors at 28, it’s a cool feeling. It really is. Hopefully I can stay healthy. I’ve kind of had some trouble with that over the past two or three years. I missed The Open in 2016, and then Augusta this year. I think I’m much more disciplined now, so I should be able to play every major, making sure my body’s healthy.
He concluded: “I’m excited for the next few years. It’s a great time to be a golf fan, with so many good players competing at the highest level. Tiger’s comeback is incredible too. I can’t wait to duel it out with them over the next couple of years and see where it takes me.”
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