It may not have proved the procession that many predicted but Brooks Koepka kept his cool to claim a hard-fought two stroke victory over Dustin Johnson at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Park.
With the wind up, the Black Course showed its teeth on the final day and even Koepka’s seemingly insurmountable seven-stroke starting lead soon looked in danger as high scores began to accumulate around the golf course.
With DJ getting to eight-under through 15, Koepka endured an almighty wobble from 11 through 14 where four bogeys on the spin momentarily had the lead down to one. With the New York crowd in a frenzy, it was up to Johnson to go for the jugular, however he airmailed the green on 16 and failed to get up and down before making a second straight bogey on the par-3 17th when he missed the target from the tee. It was the respite Koepka needed.
The 29-year old could even afford another bogey on 17 with Koepka parring the last to eventually grind out a four-over par 74 for an eight-under par total, good enough for a two shot winning margin over Johnson.
The victory saw Koepka leapfrog his Ryder Cup teammate to become the new world number one and although it’s remarkably Koepka’s fourth Major win from the last eight stagings – a streak not seen since Tiger Woods won seven out of 11 in the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black – the former Challenge Tour player was just happy to be off the golf course after a bruising wire-to-wire slog resulted in a hard-earned victory.
“I’m just glad I don’t have to play any more holes,” Koepka said. “That was a stressful round of golf. I’m glad to have this [Wanamaker Trophy] back in my hands.
“DJ played awesome. He did an unbelievable job putting pressure on me, making me play some solid golf coming down the end.”
Koepka moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup standings and No. 1 in the world with a performance that defines his dominance in golf’s biggest events.
He becomes the first player to hold back-to-back titles in two majors at the same time, having won a second straight U.S. Open last summer 60 miles down the road at Shinnecock Hills. He was the first wire-to-wire winner in the PGA Championship since Hal Sutton at Riviera in 1983.
And what stakes his claim as one of the best in his generation was a third straight year winning a major. He joins a most elite group – only Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have done that since the Masters began in 1934.
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