Brooks Koepka won his 3rd major title in his last six attempts with his PGA Championship title at Bellerive. The win bumps Brooks to #2 in the world and moves him into the front and center of the Player of the Year conversation.
Sunday showed a human side to Brooks as he was run down by Justin Thomas and Adam Scott before ultimately pulling away. He birdied 15 and the 246 yard 16th to essentially close the door, an impressive close for victory. He finished the week 2nd in SG off the tee and 8th in SG approach.
Koepka now has 3 major championships, 1 PGA Tour victory, and 1 European Tour victory. Outside of Angel Cabrera and Andy North, that is a sight you will not see very often. Majors seem to capture his attention and bring out the best in his game while regular tour events seem to lack intrigue for him. It also begs the question of whether PGA Tour setups are centered around birdies/living under par or identifying the best player. He has finished inside the top 15 in ten of the last twelve major championships. Obviously that is all conjecture, but he definitely shows a different level of play at majors and is now a lock for the Hall of Fame.
The Man in Red
Tiger put on an absolute show on Sunday afternoon. He shot 64, his lowest career final round in a major, despite a balky driver that missed all seven fairways on the front nine. The poor driving combined with his slow start on Thursday proved to be too much to overcome Koepka. We can nitpick all we want with his slight hiccups, but he shot the lowest round of the day, had a number of thrilling shots and had a legitimate chance to win for the second major in a row.
The bottom line with Tiger is that he just finished solo 2nd in a major in 2018. He has gone through the Thanksgiving incident, knee surgeries, back surgeries, swing changes, and a DWI within the last decade. Somehow he is out here hitting golf balls 180 mph at age 42 and has proven he can compete with anyone.
Tiger is up to 26th in the OWGR, has brought the casual fan back into golf, and is one of the best players in the world again. That’s special. Hopefully Jim Furyk decides to pick him for the Ryder Cup team (he says in jest).
One final note on Tiger. He stuck around and was the first player to congratulate Brooks after his win. He has become much more approachable during this comeback, and his celebration with Koepka actually made me stop in my tracks. The man who has changed the game forever and inspired millions is giving back in ways he hasn’t before. He is a childhood hero, a serious competitor, and an ambassador for the game.
One club short
Channeling his old self, Adam Scott made a very strong charge this weekend and finished in 3rd after a final hole bogey. He was tied for the lead with Koepka with five holes to go and just ran into a freight train down the stretch.
This may come as news to you, but Adam Scott has a beautiful golf swing. It really is a treat to watch. His issue has been the flat stick since the anchoring ban. He even played with 2 PUTTERS this week at Bellerive because he didn’t feel confident over long putts with the long putter. It was refreshing to see Adam Scott back in contention and hopefully he can continue.
Other Sunday Notes
The Return of Thomas Pieters
While he has had a fairly benign year to this point, Thomas Pieters really showed up on Sunday. The Belgian shot a final-round 66 but made a lot of noise during the final round. Pieters was a standout at Illinois and then was a star in the 2016 Ryder Cup. With France looming next month, captain Thomas Bjorn will definitely need to consider Pieters as a pick for the European team.
No Back to Back
Coming off a victory at Firestone and his 2017 PGA Championship, Justin Thomas came out in a flury on Sunday. He got within striking distance after 12 holes but stumbled coming home and finished T-6.
Rickie vaporized yet again
It was another Sunday to forget for Rickie Fowler, who shot a final-round 71 to fall from t3rd to t12th. Despite failing to win his first major, Rickie ends the major season with the second lowest cumulative score in the 2018 majors. Maybe next year?
US Ryder Cup Team
Sunday marked the final day for automatic qualifiers for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. The first 8 on the team are officially: Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson.
“Best Fans” in Golf
The fans of St. Louis showed up in force, and the players delivered a fantastic major championship at Bellerive. The golf course was a golf course, but it showed the town deserves more big-time golf events and a golf course to boot. I expect to see the PGA back at Bellerive, but a different Bellerive than what we saw this week.
This year’s major winners all played the season without full bag equipment deals, giving them the freedom to use whichever clubs they liked. This is a growing trend in the professional golf world and one that should make its way to the consumer. Don’t spend money on clubs, spend on lessons and playing the game we all love.
It was a hot week in St. Louis that showed the importance of staying hydrated. The heat was a bear this week, and it would have been wise for competitors to sip on some Greater Than. Better yet, Bellerive should have stocked it for the fans. It has the same delicious taste with less calories, sugars and 2x the electrolytes of most popular sports drinks. Use this link to get 20% off your first order of Greater Than, or try out their convenient trial packs.
More to come
If you missed it, here were some Sunday morning thoughts on the PGA Championship’s venue strategy. Check back tomorrow afternoon for a recap podcast, and look for a final thoughts piece to drop on the site in the next day or two.
Koepka’s shot on 16 was one of the greatest in PGA Championship history.
Watch Tiger’s final birdie on 18.
Alabama’s Kristen Gillman won her second Women’s U.S. Amateur with a victory over her teammate Jiwon Jeon. Story
Trevor Cone closed out the Ellie Mae Classic on the Web.com Tour for his first victory of the season. Leaderboard
The U.S. Amateur gets started on Monday at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. Tee Times