Portrush caddy Ricky Elliott helps Brooks Koepka to fourth major title after thrilling finish at PGA Championship
Caddy Ricky Elliott didn't have as straight forward a Sunday finish as he might have hoped for as he helped steer Brooks Koepka to a fourth major title.
The Portrush man was once again on the bag as his 29-year-old player successfully defended his PGA Championship title on the notorious Bethpage Black course to go back to the top of the world rankings.
It had looked like the infamous track could claim another victim when it forced Koepka into four straight bogeys on a tense back nine as Dustin Johnson clawed the lead, which had stood at seven shots after the third round, back to just a single shot.
However, even the then world number one couldn't complete the mounting pressure, dropping shots at both the 16th and 17th after weak approach shots, also having to scramble for a par up the last.
That left Koepka with a two shot lead on the 18th tee and when a pulled drive ended up in a comparatively favourable bunker rather than the thick rough, he was able to negotiate his way to a par and with it the tournament win.
"I'm just glad we didn't have to play any more holes," he said. "That was a special round of golf. The wind was up and DJ put the pressure on. He did an unbelievable job, making me play some solid golf coming down the stretch.
"I just tried to keep telling myself I had a lead. I don't even have words for it. It was an absolute grind.
"Today wasn't my day but I hung in there. You stay patient, don't freak out and don't let anything get to you. It was down to a one shot lead and from there you just have to hit good golf shots.
"I'm still in shock right now, this is awesome."
The victory will no doubt have felt far away when Koepka stepped off the 14th green after his fourth successive bogey but caddy Elliott managed to help steady the ship and see out the two-shot victory despite another drop-shot at the 17th.
Koepka led the tournament outright after every round, the victory built on his course record eight under par opening round.
He is the first play ever to win four majors is less than two years, adding to his PGA Championship win last year and back-to-back US Open success in 2017 and 2018. He will be aiming for three of his national titles on the trot when he visits Pebble Peach next month (June 13-16).
Graeme McDowell is also turning his attention to the venue at which he won his maiden major title in 2010 after carding a final round 70 to finish five over par at Bethpage.
"My game feels good, it really does," he said. "I'm trying not to get too destroyed by this golf course. This is not a golf course that I would pick for me in a major championship and Pebble Beach is a golf course that I would.
"I've got Colonial next week, which is going to feel like a pitch-and-putt by comparison, then the Canadian Open. I have some great stuff ahead of me. I'm feeling a bit bruised and battered but I have to say the game is OK and I'm looking forward to the next few weeks.
"I've just had two weeks off and I feel like I've just played 12 in a row or something. I got here Tuesday afternoon and it's been an incredibly long week. This golf course is relentless. That's really the only way to describe it.
"I watched the coverage yesterday afternoon. I watched Dustin (Johnson) and Brooks (Koepka) and decided today I was going to go out and actually take my driver on, take it on a little bit off the tee.
"I drove it better today and I actually got myself in some positions and even had some short irons in my hand and all kinds of fancy stuff like that. It was kind of cool."
Belfast Telegraph Digital