FARMINGDALE, NY– Brooks Koepka once again is in a familiar spot. In the illustrious winner’s circle of being a major champion. But getting his fourth major championship would not be an easy task. Bethpage Black showed why it’s one of the toughest major championship venues in America. Koepka started to miss fairways and Dustin Johnson roared from behind back into contention. But Brooks Koepka, despite struggling down the stretch, would make the critical shots the final few holes to survive and secure his fourth major championship in his last eight appearances. With the win, Brooks becomes the first player to win his first four major championships in two years or less. And become the first golfer to be the back-to-back champion of the PGA Championship and U.S. Open simultaneously.
But most of all, Koepka is solidifying himself as the premier millennial golfer, dominating in the tournaments that matter most.
“This was my most satisfying major win,” said Koepka after the round. “I’d challenge anyone to go out and play in these conditions, they were brutal. That was so exciting to get this done.”
Brooks Koepka’s Steady, Consistent Play Shines in Final Round
The final round was all about survival and outlasting the competition for Brooks Koepka. With Bethpage Black showing it’s difficulty and punitive nature, Koepka’s strategy was simple. Put the ball in play, try to make birdies and don’t get a big score.
There were moments where the final round could have gone awry. Brooks Koepka bogeyed the first hole and his playing partner, Harold Varner III, got a birdie that resulted in a two-shot swing. Dustin Johnson, starting the day seven back of Koepka, shot three under on the Front 9, to go within four shots of the leader. It was the third time in the past two years where Koepka and Johnson were near the top of a major championship leaderboard; the previous two occurred at the 2019 Masters and last year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.
But when the winds started to swirl and the conditions became difficult at Bethpage, Koepka started to waver. With four consecutive bogeys on the Back 9, Koepka’s seven-shot lead was evaporated to one. Dustin Johnson, who was walking off the 15th green with a birdie, was starting to feel the momentum and the belief that he can snatch this major championship from Koepka. But bogeys on 16 and 17 put Johnson out of contention, paving the way for Brooks Koepka to survive and outlast the field. For Dustin Johnson, who was first in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and Proximity to the Hole Around the Green, he believes his game is in great shape to be competitive at future major championships.
“I really like the state of my game. I’ve been playing well all year,” said Johnson. “But unfortunately, just didn’t roll in the putts to get it done.”
For Koepka, it was all about getting to a finish line. Despite only converting 42 percent of fairways, Koepka made the ones he needed to the most, on 15 and 16. On the 72nd hole, his wedge shot to within 10 feet for the win, which he sank, epitomized the toughness and mental fortitude needed to secure a major championship.
“That was a stressful round of golf,” said Koepka. “The wind was up, DJ played well. He put pressure on me to play solid golf.”
Brooks Koepka Put on Major Championship Pedestal All By Himself
Bend but don’t break. That has been the mantra for Brooks Koepka all throughout his career. While his American peers were having success on the golf courses that exemplify affluence and status, Koepka was grinding his way on the European Challenger Tour. At one moment in Scotland, Koepka considered leaving the game of golf altogether. He was playing golf in 15 different countries, often staying in less than modest accommodations. He had driven through the night, survived a flat tire and only had 90 minutes of sleep before teeing off.
But this adversity, these tough conditions to overcome made Koepka a more complete player. He learned valuable lessons about never giving up and always being tenacious. This made him win on the European Challenger Tour, which eventually led to a PGA Tour card and an opportunity at stardom. For years, the golf world was focused on the rise of Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. When Brooks Koepka’s name was brought up, it was never given any credibility. Not after his first U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills. Or his back to back U.S. Open win at Shinnecock.
But his ability to win the PGA Championship at Bellerive, with Tiger Woods charging, as well as at Bethpage Black, with Dustin Johnson on his heels, puts him on a major championship pedestal all on his own. Those who doubted or criticized Koepka now are silent. It is that constant skepticism that fuels Koepka and has allowed him to become the best golfer in the world.
“Going the route that I did, it toughened me,” Koepka said. “It was a blessing in disguise.”
Brooks Koepka Becomes World No. 1
With Sunday’s PGA Championship victory, Brooks Koepka once again reclaims the title of World No. 1. He is tied for the fourth-most major wins before turning 30, behind only Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Ben Hogan.
Before Brooks Koepka, the last player to win back to back PGA Championships was Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods would intimidate opponents but also handle the emotions of adverse moments. With Brooks Koepka’s performance at Bethpage, he enters that conversation as not just the number one golfer in the world, but also the game’s most clutch golfer in the big moments.
“My belief is great right now,” said Koepka. “I’m playing great and am super confident. I did not have my best but to be able to hang in there, right the ship, and refocus, allowed me to win today.”
Most golfers would have completely quaked under the magnitude of the moment. Brooks Koepka may have blinked but he never fully collapsed. The time is now for Koepka to continue to dominate, entering his name into the conversation of one of the greatest golfers of all time.