Brooks Koepka holds off charging Dustin Johnson to capture second-straight PGA Championship
🏆 @BKoepka has won the PGA Championship!
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 19, 2019
What started out what appeared to be a walk in the park at the famously difficult Bethpage Black Course on Long Island turned into a drama filled afternoon of survival.
Defending PGA Champion Brooks Koepka started the day with a cushy seven stroke lead. No golfer has ever lost a major or even a regular PGA Tour event with this much of a lead going into the final round, although Greg Norman famously lost The Masters despite a six-shot lead to start the final round in 1996.
Bethpage Black is notoriously tough and when you add 20 mile per hour steady winds with higher gusts, it was truly a day of survival. When Koepka approached the 15th tee playing one group behind Dustin Johnson, his lead had shrunk to one after four straight bogies, with Koepka’s three-over total on the day sapping confidence. Johnson was three-under for his final round at that point.
Making the pressure more intense, the crowd’s chants for Johnson were more than within earshot of Koepka. As the score tightened, while looking calm and focused, Koepka admitted he heard it.
“How could you not, with the DJ chants.’ Koepka noted. “I heard everything. He did an unbelievable job putting pressure on me, making me play some golf there coming down there at the end.”
But Johnson was not able to keep the pressure on Koepka. Painful bogies by Johnson on 16 and 17 left Koepka with a three stroke lead as a he approached the tee on 17. A bogey by Koepka on 17 left him with needing only bogey for the win, but an up and down par from the fairway on 18 secured Koepka a two-stroke win and place in the record books as a rare repeat major winner.
"The winds this afternoon made Bethpage diabolically difficult and I have to say that Brooks, last man standing after everything said and done, is a testament to his strength, his fortitude and his will to win."
– Rich Beem on an impressive performance by Brooks Koepka. pic.twitter.com/EHBvmVESjX
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) May 20, 2019
“I’m just glad we did not have to play more holes. That was a stressful round of golf,” he admitted. “That wind was up, DJ played awesome. He put the pressure on, but I’m glad to have this thing (the Wannamaker Trophy) back in my hands.”
Earning the right to play less than his best golf on the final holes is part of the story for Koepka, a man who keeps making history. His first two rounds of 63 and 65 set a US Open record, making his 70 and 74 finish plenty good enough at one of golf’s toughest annual challenges.
Congratulations, @BKoepka! 🏆
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 19, 2019
The 29-year old Koepka joined Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as winners of four majors in a span of less than two years. He is the first golfer to simultaneously hold back-to-back titles at two majors as he heads to next month’s US Open as two-time defending champion.
Brooks Koepka becomes the first golfer EVER to win back-to-back titles in the PGA Championship and US Open. pic.twitter.com/kZhbOyWi1L
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) May 19, 2019
Johnson, the 2016 US Open champion, leaves with the consolation of having now finished second in all four majors.
Next month, Koepka will be going to Pebble Beach in search of a three-peat at the U.S. Open Championship. In 2020, he will be going for three straight PGA Championships at Harding Park in San Francisco.
It appears Koepka will not be done making history any time soon.
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