Circle of Life: Koepka, Woods, Scott awe, inspire down the stretch at PGA Championship

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He is not the Lion King but Brooks Koepka is roaring atop the golf world.

Who would have thought going back just to the start of 2017 that Koepka with only one win on the PGA Tour and a 42 year old Tiger Woods after four back surgeries would battle to win a major?

It is amazing where both men are today. Also amazing is the circle of life playing out on golf’s biggest stages.

With consecutive U.S. Open wins in hand, Koepka impressed again by taking the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.He did it by posting the lowest four-round total in major championship history with a 264.

Woods showed his best form in ages with a final-round 64 to finish two shots back in second place. In fact, his Sunday effort was the final round of his storied career.

“This one, I never quite got to the lead,” said Woods. “I was always trailing. It was a golf course in which I couldn’t sit still and make pars and be OK with it. I had to keep making birdies…you could see guys shooting 5 (and) 6 under par today, and with a bunch around 8 under or better starting the day. I had to go get it and I tried.”

Last month at The Open in Carnoustie, Woods held the lead with nine holes to play before faltering. Not this time. A renewed Tiger of old with his steely eyed determination and fist pumps had the fans roaring and hoping for what could have been the greatest comeback in sports history.

Koepka was just too good.

Despite making bogies on two of the first five holes, Koepka was unflappable, playing the last 13 holes five-under par. Woods saw his surge fall short with a round that could have gone lower.

A day that also saw past Masters and Players champion Adam Scott also return to the spotlight after a drought provided plenty of story lines. With a confidence that has been lacking in recent years, Scott took advantage of his chance to compete on the big stage after only gaining a spot in the PGA field by a special invitation.

The Aussie played inspired golf, fueled in part by the desire to honor the memory of longtime friend and fellow countryman Jarrod Lyle. The yellow ribbons worn throughout the field were a tribute to Lyle after his recent passing due to cancer.

Scott’s bogie on 18 left him three strokes back as he failed to match the final push of Koepka and played the last five holes one-over par.

“Look, at the moment, I’m pretty disappointed with myself that I couldn’t play the last three holes better than I did,” Scott said. “There was lots happening out there. Tiger was charging at times, and that was filtering back to the groups, certainly.” Every leader board that changed, no matter what hole you were on…it’s a really fun atmosphere to be in.”

The 28-year old Koepka, a three time All-American at Florida State who brings a steady calm to the course, certainly appreciated what it took to overcome his playing partner Scott and the legend Woods to secure his third major title and fourth tournament win overall.

“I remember when I watched Adam win at the Players. I loved his swing. He’s got the best golf swing ever, I think. It’s so pretty to watch. He’s one of the nicest guys once you meet him, too. He really is, Koepka said. “And then, I mean, Tiger for obvious reasons. As a kid growing up, that’s the whole reason that all of us, or people in my generation, are even playing golf was because of him. And to duel it out with them, it’s pretty neat. I don’t think I ever dreamed of that, that situation I was in today.”

Humble over cocky, Koepka is not taking any of his elite success for granted.

“It really is surreal. It’s really cool.”

There are young golfers who have watched the mercurial rise of Brooks Koepka, just like he once admired Woods and Scott from afar in awe. There will be a day when they are in the winner’s circle and you will hear, “Brooks Koepka inspired me.”

Top 10 Finishers
1. Brooks Koepka (-16)
2. Tiger Woods (-14)
3. Adam Scott (-13)
T4. Stewart Cink (-11)
T4. Jon Rahm (-11)
T6. Thomas Pieters (-10)
T6. Francesco Molinari (-10)
T6. Justin Thomas (-10)
T6. Gary Woodland (-10)
T10. Rafa Cabrera-Bello (-9)
T10. Tyrrell Hatton (-9)

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