John Duggan
John Duggan

08.52 20 May 2019


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American Brooks Koepka is the US PGA champion for the second year running and has become the first player to win back-to-back US PGA and US Open titles. 

The 29-year-old has won four majors in his last eight starts. He's the new world number one and he's put Tiger Woods' resurrection into the shadows for now.

It felt inevitable from Thursday evening that Koepka was going to win at Bethpage Black.

His seven under par opening round of 63 had everyone chasing and he followed that up with a 65. Game over. Until Sunday that was, when in very windy conditions, Dustin Johnson made a run and Koepka felt the heat.

Koepka made bogeys at 11, 12, 13 and 14, his imagination and focus deserting him as he dealt with the loneliness of being the long distance front runner.  Johnson's birdie on 15 reduced the deficit from a starting seven shots to one and 'it was on'.

However, Johnson's fortitude in majors may not be equitable with his talent and he played 16 and 17 poorly, the bogeys which arrived allowing Koepka to breathe and finish the job.

Ultimately, it was Koepka's 'Terminator', machine-like golf that gave him the cushion to fritter away four shots on the final day and still win by two.

Rory McIlroy finished in the top 10, but he was nine shots behind Koepka at the end.

It's five years since McIlroy won a major.

The reasons for Koepka's win were clear; he was third in driving for the week and led in greens hit.

He didn't record his first bogey until the 28th hole at a monstrous venue.

It shows some nerve to be able to peak around majors, but that is what Koepka has done.

He's collected 15 top 20 finishes in majors. Of his six US PGA Tour wins, four of them have been in majors. Not bad for a player who was once a fixture on the European Tour and before that, the satellite European Challenge Tour.

Those experiences of travelling alone, of cheap hotels and hustling to join the elite, have steeled Koepka.

The Floridian isn't a babbling brook of quotes or an escapologist on the course to wow the masses. He is an athlete who is overpowering tracks like a teenage obsessive than has conquered the old Tiger Woods computer game. Due to his quiet nature, he hasn't received the respect his journey or his play have deserved in the Instagram and Twitter era.

So where is the limit in the sky?

Barring injury or a loss of form, Brooks Koepka is going to be a major fixture in golf.  I don't know if he's going to be a game changer in the Jack or Tiger mould, as hot streaks can come and go. It wasn't long ago that we were all heralding McIlroy and Jordan Spieth as the second coming.

Regardless, right now Brooks Koepka has earned the right to say 'Hasta la vista' to everyone.

He's done it his way, individually, uncompromisingly, successfully. More power to him.


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