Farmingdale, NY- When Friday’s second round of the PGA Championship concluded, interest dried up. Tiger Woods missed the cut. Phil Mickelson was on the outside looking in. And Brooks Koepka so effortlessly dominated Bethpage Black over the first two days of the tournament that the Wanamaker Trophy was already in Koepka’s hands again. That feeling held after Saturday when Koepka’s lead held at seven strokes despite an even-par day. Sunday reminded fans to not presume the outcome until every hole is played.
Dustin Johnson entered the day -5 and proceeded to remind the crowd of his number one status. He birdied three holes on the front nine to spark some possible concern in the Koepka camp. He stood just four strokes back of Koepka as the leader stayed even through the first nine.
Brooks opened the back nine with a birdie to improve his score to -13. Meanwhile, Johnson bogeyed 11 to Some fans left, thinking Koepka was so far ahead with only a few holes left and expecting rain would come down. The clouds indeed thickened, but the rain did not fall, nor did Koepka’s dominance hold.
In a shock twist, the normally reliable Koepka bogeyed four consecutive holes. He missed all his drives badly on holes 11-14. Meanwhile, Dustin Johnson birdied 15 and the New York fans rewarded his spirited push by chanting his name. In Koepka’s description of the four mishaps, “I didn’t make one on 11. On 12, didn’t have the easiest of par looks. 13 was a bit disappointing, and 14 was just a bit of a shock to go four in a row. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve made four bogeys in a row. I don’t know if I ever have — I’m sure I have. But just had to reset.”
He did. With fans booing him, Koepka calmly pared both 15 and 16. Johnson lost his chance at a win by bogeying both 16 and 17 and hitting the 18 right-fairway side bunker and then sailing the green long. He recovered and pared the hole but trailed by two. Bethpage continued to challenge Koepka, as he whiffed on a 4’6″ par putt on 17 to only lead two with a hole left. Johnson watched while submitting his card.
The tension heightened on 18 as Koepka’s drive sailed left into the fairway fescue above the bunker. A double bogey to force a playoff and one of the most spectacular final round collapses appeared destined. With smatterings of cheers and boos in the packed gallery, Koepka buckled down. He got back to the fairway then drilled a shot to within six feet of the hole. The Florida State Seminole alum punched home the par to escape the worst round of PGA Championship golf by a tournament winner (+4) to claim his second straight Wanamaker Trophy.
“Today was definitely the most satisfying out of all of them for how stressful that round was; how stressful DJ made that. That was probably definitely — I know for a fact, that was the most excited I’ve ever been in my life ever there on 18.”
Dustin Johnson’s rally fell slightly short at -1 for the round and -6 for the tournament, two strokes behind Koepka. Johnson was the only player to go under par every round in the tournament.
Brooks Koepka walks away from Long Island with his second major on the 1,400 square mile home to 7.8 million in two years. He won the US Open at Shinnecock Hills last season.
With two straight PGA Championships, Brooks is the first player to repeat in this tournament since Tiger Woods in 2006-2007. He and Tiger are the only two players to repeat in the stroke-play era of the PGA Championship.
With two straight US Open victories on top of his two PGA Championships, Koepka is the first golfer in professional history to hold two consecutive Majors at the same time.
Koepka is one of four golfers to win four majors in eight seasons. The other three are Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Ben Hogan.
Koepka is the first player to win the PGA Championship wire-to-wire since Jack Nicklaus cleared that mark since Hal Sutton dominated Riviera in 1983. Raymond Floyd (1982), Jack Nicklaus (1971), and Bobby Nichols (1964) are the other players to accomplish that milestone.
Brooks jumps Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose for the top spot in the World Golf Rankings.
“it’s been a hell of a run,” mused Koepka. “It’s been fun. I’m trying not to let it stop. It’s super enjoyable, and just try to ride that momentum going into Pebble. I mean, 4 of 8, I like the way that sounds.”
Other than Johnson, three players trailed Koepka by seven strokes at the start of play. Augusta, GA, native Luke List hit snags on the front with four bogeys and on the back with a fifth bogey on 18 and a back-breaking triple bogey on 11. He ended at -1 for the tournament.
Asian Tour staple Jazz Janewattananond went even on the front before double bogeying 12 and bogeying the next five consecutive holes. He records a +2 for the tournament to finish tied for 14th in his second major and first made cut in a major.
Brooks’ playing partner Harold Varner III struggled immensely. He went +11 for the finale and ended at +6 for the tournament. He finishes tied for 36th, still his best career major performance. His previous best was tying for 66th at the 2016 Masters.
Only six players –Koepka, Johnson, Jordan Spieth (-2), Patrick Cantlay (-2), Matt Wallace (-2), and Luke List (-1)– finished over par for the tournament. Sung Kang finished at even par.
Danish player Lucas Bjerregaard recorded the only ace of the tournament. He drilled a hole-in-one on the 206 yard 17th hole with a six-iron.
Future Bethpage Black Events
Bethpage Black will next host a PGA event in 2021 when The Northern Trust returns for the third time in tournament history and
“Good luck to Europe with these fans. I can’t wait to play it. I hope I’m on the team. If not, I just want to be here. It’s going to be very special. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m excited already thinking about it. This is one hell of a place to play Ryder Cup.”
Next year’s PGA Championship will be played between May 14-17 at TPC Harding Park, in San Francisco.
The PGA Tour’s schedule resumes next week with the Charles Schwab Challenge at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. The next major is the US Open at Pebble Beach.