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.
With one month to go until the Ryder Cup in France, the first eight Team USA players have been confirmed following the conclusion of the PGA Championship.
With the top eight players selected from points gained at every PGA Tour event, WGC and major, the remaining four slots will be down to the team management over the next few weeks.
Here, we take a look at the players named in Jim Furyk’s squad.
A fascinating year for the 28-year-old. With a third major win in 14 months, he now surely deserves serious recognition among the golf public after his stunning victory at Bellerive. The World No2’s devastating game off the tee and razor-like short game has parachuted him into being the leading figure in the current crop of star players – and based on current from, he will be difficult to stop in France.
The 33-year-old has the most complete game in the sport and will be a pivotal figure when America set out to retain their Ryder Cup title next month. The Florida resident has missed only one cut in 16 starts this year, including three top-5s, top-10s and three tournament wins. It may be another year without a major win for the best player in the world but Johnson has the tools and desire to improve further in 2019.
The World No3 may not be the same household name as Justin Spieth and Dustin Johnson, but has proven to be equally as influential. It’s hard to imagine the 25-year-old has yet to play in the Ryder Cup, despite a career to date in which he has won eight PGA Tour titles, the FedEX Championship and a major. With two top-5s, four top-10s, seven top-25s and two tournament wins this season, the Kentucky native will be a serious addition to Furyk’s side next month.
The Masters champion would have been part of the team regardless of his ranking, given his history in high pressure matches. He is unbeaten in singles (2-0-0) and fourballs (3-1-0) during his two Ryder Cup appearances. The 27-year-old has secured one top-5 and two top-10s in his 10 tournament starts since his triumph at Augusta. Has the confidence and potential to be a consistent top-10 ranked player for years to come.
The 39-year-old famously missed out on the 2016 edition despite holding a top-8 raking at the moment. Stepping in as a vice-captain, the Florida man used his presence to help the Americans to a first title since 2008. Four missed cuts in the last seven tournaments, including the Open and PGA Championship, will surely disappoint him but expect him to hit top form come golf’s premier match play competition.
Results may have not gone his way over the past 12 months but the 24-year-old is still a three-time major winner. Has proven to be a force with Reed in their last two Ryder Cup appearances and if he can improve his putting – his biggest strength in previous years – then expect him to add to his 11 career Tour wins before September’s showpiece. Recent results may be off his overall expectations, but if Spieth can replicate his final round form at Bellerive, then he could be a serious force in the French capital.
A career best second at the Masters earlier this year will have boosted the confidence of Fowler, who makes the team for a fourth time – at just 29. Has shown a penchant for heating up on the grand stage and will be bidding to better his 2-4-5 record in previous Ryder Cups. At present, his form looks solid, with three top-10s eight top-25s over his last 18 starts – including three missed cuts. Still chasing that elusive major win.
The Players Championship winner has finished in the top-20 of each major this season. His win at Sawgrass was perhaps his finest as he jumped from 29 to nine in the Ryder Cup rankings. The 33-year-old will make his third appearance for America and looks to have hit a fine run of form at the right time ahead of next month’s showdown.
Brooks Koepka held off a thrilling challenge from Tiger Woods to win the 100th PGA Championship in St Louis on Sunday.
Koepka carded a closing 66 in a stunning final round to finish 16 under par and two shots ahead of Woods, joining the runner-up, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win the US Open and US PGA in the same season.
After becoming the first player in 29 years to win back-to-back US Open titles in June, Koepka has now won three of his last six major starts, a wrist injury having forced him to sit out the Masters in April.
Here, we take a look at the five takeaways from the final major of the year.
Koepka shows his class
A fascinating year for the Florida man.
With a quality leaderboard breathing down his neck and the pressure of an advancing Woods, the 28-year-old held firm to shoot a scintillating 66 and clinch his third major and second of 2018.
The World No2 is shaping into a force, combining a devastating game off the tee with an razor-like short game. With another major to add to his mantelpiece, he now surely deserves serious recognition among the golf public after being underrated in the American game for so long.
Players like Jordan Spieth and Woods may be household names in the US, but Koepka certainly has a bright future in the game ahead of him. And with it being a Ryder Cup year, he has the chance to be one of Jim Furyk’s key lieutenants at Le Golf National next month as the Americans bid to defend their title on European soil.
Woods rises back to his best
An inspired showing from the American.
Woods began the final round four shots behind Koepka and was within a shot three times, but Koepka birdied the 15th and 16th before a wayward drive on the 17th cost Woods the chance of a birdie himself.
Remarkably, his 196 (66-66-64) in the last three rounds is his lowest score across three consecutive rounds in his major championship career.
It is still a stunning second-place finish for the 42-year-old who has recorded four top-five and four top-15 finishes in 2018, including a tie for sixth at the Open Championship last month
Winning a 15th major would be a fairytale way to seal one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history and recent form suggests he could well be in contention again in 2019.
Spieth’s disappointing year continues
The three-time major winner failed in his second quest to secure a career grand slam, finishing in a tie for 12th.
Although he may be disappointed to end the year without a major, the Texan showed signs of his remarkable talents with a final round 66 after three mixed rounds.
It’s been a mediocre year for the 24-year-old, with a disappointing ninth place at The Open where he held the lead after three rounds.
In addition, the right-hander has recorded two top-5, three top-10 and five top-25 finishes, including a win at the Tournament of Champions in January.
The results may be off his overall expectations, but if Spieth can replicate his final round form at Bellerive, then he could be a force for the FedEX playoffs and Ryder Cup.
It’s incredible how the American has been a favourite for every major this year but just can’t get the job done.
Fifth in gaining strokes off the tee this weekend, his normally classy iron and putting play was off colour and he was restricted to a T27 finish.
The World No1 was seven-under-par heading into the third round, but six bogeys and a double saw him move out of contention.
It perfectly summarises DJ’s season, with plenty of positives combined with a lot of negatives.
Another year without a major win for the best player in the world.
Poor TV coverage
Eleven Sports‘ coverage of the final major of the year proved to be a disaster, with an overload of commercials, poor commentary, bad shot selection of players and general production an embarrassment.
Their inconsistencies further proved how Sky Sports‘ production values remain unmatched, with nice shots always acknowledged if they are missed on camera at the time.
The producers even missed Koepka’s winning putt, with the link cutting out at midnight (3:00 UAE time).