Sunday’s win at the PGA Championship was the latest installment of Brooks Koepka’s steady rise to domination of world golf.
The 28-year-old Florida native collected his third major in 14 months and further cemented his status as the leading light in the current crop of young stars excelling in the game.
But for all Koepka’s excellence in achieving this monstrous feat at such a young age, he is still somewhat underappreciated – an argument that seems ludicrous after his latest major triumph.
He may have the square jaw, the high-watt smile and the comic book character looks, but this hasn’t been enough to capture the attention of the American public who seem to dislike the fact that he doesn’t watch much golf, stays low key and shows little emotion.
But the resilience he showed to fend off Tiger Woods in St Louis will certainly make his rise less underappreciated now and catapult his stature to new heights.
Rory McIlroy – at 29 – may be the elder statesman with his four majors, Jordan Spieth is close behind on three and Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas are level on one each. And with Rickie Fowler still to get off the mark, this proves how difficult these tournaments are to win.
Indeed, with his recent successes over the last year, could Koepka be the late bolter in this generation to end up with the most majors?
It’s difficult to say at this stage but he is in the ideal position, with a powerful game off the tee and an arrow-like short game contributing to his success. He’s young, fearless, his game is fresh, he has no big commitments outside of golf, no business interests and there is no expectation on his wide-spaced shoulders.
In his 20 major appearances to date, the Jupiter resident has eight top-10s and six top-5s, with seven straight top-25s coming before he even lifted his first major at Erin Hills last year.
In non-majors this year, he has two second place finishes, five top-10s and seven top-25s in 13 tournaments, with his overall consistency putting him third in the FedEXCup standings behind only Johnson and Thomas. Two of the men currently setting the bar for American at present.
The desire is clearly there and his career-threatening wrist injury at the beginning of the year – where he missed the Masters – made him realise how important the game is to him and how much he loves competition.
He’s at a wonderful stage now but that expectation is only going to increase as he moves on in life. For all the skills and mental toughness needed on the course, it will be interesting to see if he will possess the same freshness and drive to win trophies in three to five years time.
All these guys have the potential to win on any given week but it comes down to the hunger, the ruthlessness, the selfishness to put golf first before other things comes in and contaminate the mindset. Koepka needs to keep this form up and not let the outside music distract the melody he is making.
Players like Tiger Woods and Spieth may be household names in the US, but Koepka certainly has a bright future in the game ahead of him. And with the Ryder Cup taking place next month, he has the chance to further showcase his sheer class as America bid to defend their title on European soil.
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