Even when there was doubt, Brooks Koepka had no doubt
Brooks Koepka held off world number one Dustin Johnson to retain his US PGA Championship title and win a fourth major on a dramatic day at Bethpage. Brooks Koepka has long said he’s inspired by a lack of respect. That’s why he wasn’t bothered when the rowdy New York fans turned on the man who’d been on a virtual victory parade for the past two days.
Koepka lost all but one shot of his record seven-shot lead on Sunday and then lost the brutal Long Island crowd as he was on his way to a fourth straight bogey that allowed Dustin Johnson to pull within one shot.
“It’s New York,” Koepka said. “What do you expect when you’re half-choking it away?”
“When they started chanting, “DJ,” it actually kind of helped,” he said. “I think that was the best thing that could have happened.”
He responded like a player capable of piling up major championships faster than anyone since Tiger Woods.
Motivated by the crowd turning on him, Koepka delivered the key shots over the closing stretch as Johnson faded with two straight bogeys. He closed with a 4-over 74 for a two-shot victory and joined Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the PGA Championship since it went to stroke play in 1958.
That gives him four of the last eight majors he played and makes him the first player to hold two back-to-back majors at the same time. He won his second straight U.S. Open last summer 60 miles down the road at Shinnecock Hills before a far less rowdy crowd.
When his 6-foot par putt fell on the last hole, Koepka thrust his muscular right arm in the air and hugged his caddie hard.
“Today was definitely the most satisfying out of all of them for how stressful that round was – how stressful D.J. made that,” Koepka said. “I know for a fact that was the most excited I’ve ever been in my life there on 18.”
Koepka, who finished at 8-under 272, returned to No 1 in the world with a performance that defines his dominance in golf’s biggest events.
He was the first wire-to-wire winner in the PGA Championship since Hal Sutton at Riviera in 1983. It was his third straight year winning a major, a feat achieved by only seven others since the Masters began in 1934 – Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Peter Thomson and Ralph Guldahl.
Winning four of his last eight majors is a stretch not seen since Woods won seven out of 11 when he captured the 2002 US Open at Bethpage Black.
Next up is the US Open at Pebble Beach, where Koepka already is the betting favourite as he defends his title for the second time. No one has won the US Open three straight years since Willie Anderson in 1905.