US PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka holds his nerve to claim fourth major victory
‘This one’s definitely at the top of the list in how emotionally spent I am,’ he said.
Brooks Koepka admitted he was “emotionally spent” after surviving an unexpectedly nerve-racking final round to defend his US PGA Championship title and claim a remarkable fourth major victory in his last eight starts.
Koepka had followed a course record of 63 on Thursday with a 65 to set the lowest halfway total in major championship history and took a tournament-record seven-shot lead into the last day at a blustery Bethpage.
No player has ever surrendered such a lead in a major after 54 holes and the 29-year-old remained six clear with eight to play, but bogeyed the next four holes to allow good friend Dustin Johnson to close within a single shot.
However, with the raucous New York crowd now chanting his name, Johnson dropped shots on the 16th and 17th to give Koepka the breathing space he so desperately needed and a closing 74 – the highest final round by a major winner in 15 years – was good enough for a two-shot victory.
“This one’s definitely at the top of the list in how emotionally spent I am and how mentally spent I am,” Koepka said. “I’m just glad we didn’t have to play any more holes, that was a stressful round of golf.”
Tweet of the day
It’s official; Brooks Koepka now has more Majors than I got in my first driving test.— Eddie Pepperell (@PepperellEddie) May 19, 2019
Eddie Pepperell compares faults on his driving test to Koepka’s major title haul.
Quote of the day
On whether this surprised him: “It’s New York. What do you expect when you’re half-choking it away?”— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelTAN) May 19, 2019
Brooks Koepka takes a phlegmatic approach to the fans chanting for Dustin Johnson.
Shot of the day
HOLE-IN-ONE!! pic.twitter.com/tbKhaARtEv— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) May 19, 2019
The battle to finish “Top Lucas” finished in a tie, but Lucas Bjerregaard did gain bragging rights over Lucas Glover with a hole-in-one on the 17th, after which Glover holed out of a bunker for a birdie.
Round of the day
Let’s do this. pic.twitter.com/gFYnivcECf— Rich Beem (@beemerpga) May 13, 2019
Former champion Rich Beem covered the back nine in 30 on Friday to make the cut with a 69 and rebounded from an 82 on Saturday with another 69 on Sunday thanks to birdies on the last two holes. The 48-year-old then had to return to his day job as a television commentator.
Statistic of the day
.@BKoepka will head to Harding Park next year trying to become the only player in the stroke play era to win the #PGAChampionship 3 straight years. Walter Hagen is the only player to win 4 in a row - doing so when it was match play in 1924, 1925, 1926 and 1927.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) May 19, 2019
Koepka will also seek a third straight US Open victory at Pebble Beach next month.
The par-five fourth played as the easiest hole for the fourth day running thanks to one eagle and 35 birdies for a scoring average of 4.707.
The hole which effectively cost Dustin Johnson a chance of winning was the toughest, the par-four 16th playing to a stroke average of 4.61 after giving up just three birdies. Johnson carded one of the 45 bogeys.
On the up
Matt Wallace’s world ranking and confidence. Wallace’s share of third place took him into the top 25 for the first time and the confident Londoner is now targeting even better at next month’s US Open.
On the slide
Possibly the friendship between Koepka and Johnson after the former claimed his fourth major title since Johnson won his only one to date in the 2016 US Open.