16.4 C
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
HomeUSBrooks Koepka WINS the US PGA Championship by two shots

Brooks Koepka WINS the US PGA Championship by two shots


A month ago, Brooks Koepka choked on the final day of the Masters and swore it would never happen again. Sunday night, as the sun set over the US PGA Championship in Rochester, he delivered on his promise.

He kept his composure, he drilled his putts and in 67 shots he bit Viktor Hovland hard and drained resistance from a brave Norwegian who put up a great fight. With a two-stroke victory, one of the great golfers of that era ended a four-year wait for a fifth major title. Wonderful stuff.

There will be some, many even, who choose to view this achievement through the prism of what it means for his tour, which happens to be LIV, if you hadn’t heard. By extension, there will be debates about the sheer irresistibility of his claims to a place in the Ryder Cup and the political gymnastics provoked by those conversations.

Both are solid talking points that can wait, as first to the battle that unfolded at Oak Hill, and within it some more credit to Hovland.

He pushed Koepka, he beat him and he stayed in the race as long as he could, which, to be precise, meant 15 and a half holes. At this point the gap was one, as it had been at the start of the game, and these are the times where scar tissue can be a factor.

Brooks Koepka (above) triumphed at the US PGA Championship with a nine-under finish

For Koepka, that could have meant reflecting on how he “spit” a two-stroke lead on his fourth round at Augusta. His words. How ‘choking’. He’s long had little sympathy for himself when victory goes his way, but in this slug-fest he didn’t blink, and instead it was Hovland.

The key was the 16th hole, when the 25-year-old walked into a bunker and stayed there, creating a double bogey. One shot became four, and it was a testament to Hovland’s resilience as he brought it down to two.

In the end, he had to share second place with Scottie Scheffler at seven under par, as it was Koepka who claimed his third title in that particular major.

When it was done, he clenched his fist and smiled – a big game hunter who disappeared from sight before joining LIV and became more obscure once he did.

The last two majors have since recalled that no talent was lost in this transition, and so were the knee injuries that threatened to ruin his career.

Focusing for a moment on national interests, his revival may offer hope to Rory McIlroy. His final two-under tally saved a top-seven spot that seemed impossible due to his demeanor and swing.

It took courage but he needs to spend some time at the drawing board to figure out his direction of travel. There was also a top 10 for Justin Rose on an over, and Austria’s Sepp Straka adding to Hovland meant it was a good week for European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald.

Going back to the questions about the course, it was an exciting last day. Sunday’s bright and warm conditions were a marked difference from the various frosts, showers and squalls that had caused so much carnage in the first three races.

As such, the fairways were less firm and fast, the greens were more receptive and the rough lacked bite, resulting in many more red numbers on the leaderboard.

The potential was demonstrated by the early starters’ score and Cameron Smith exemplified it best with a 65, built on seven birdies. So there was some possibility and maybe even some hope that the east course might allow for a pursuit.

For McIlroy, starting five behind Koepka, it was always going to require the kind of golf he’s failed to deliver over the past 10 weeks, and while he’s improved over the weekend, too many debts had been incurred for a serious challenge.

In the end, it never had the same postcode as Koepka and Hovland, who ran a two-horse race for much of the afternoon until Scheffler later added another dimension. .

In Koepka’s case, he quickly got out of the traps. He birdied each of the second, third and fourth, reaching nine under, but Hovland hung on, with his own birdies at four and five.

This put Hovland back at two, but entering the trickier stretch of the course Koepka went out of bounds on the right of six and as he escaped with a bogey five his lead was reduced to one.

He was back at two in Koepka’s favor after 10, but his demeanor seemed a bit more agitated at 11 when his par-three tee shot sunk deep into the face of a greenside bunker. He barely had a position, but if there was a good bogey, it was the one he recovered.

Over the next three holes, they shared two birdies apiece, so the American was up one-16 when the key moment in this showdown came. The crux of the drama came when Hovland entered a bunker to the right of the fairway, and 172 yards from the green he drove his sandblast deep into the lip of the trap.

He left with a six and Koepka twisted the knife with a birdie for 10 under and a four-stroke lead in second place, which now included Scheffler, who quickly held it on seven under after closing with a birdie for a 65.

Hovland leveled Scheffler with a final birdie at 18, while Koepka, who only needed to avoid an implosion, dropped one at 17 and gently galloped to a major victory.

The author of what'snew2day.com is dedicated to keeping you up-to-date on the latest news and information.

Latest stories