Brooks Koepka secured his place in golfing history with a two-shot triumph at the US PGA Championship, where he went wire-to-wire to become the first male player to win his first four Major titles in less than two years.
Starting the final round with a strong seven-shot margin, all eyes were on Brooks to cruise to an easy victory. Many golf writers had all but conceded victory to Koepka before he even teed off. But on a brutally challenging day at the famously difficult Bethpage Black Course, the 29 year-old was made to endure a nervy finish as the Long Island wind played havoc. A bogey on the first, combined with a birdie by playing partner Harold Varner III, saw the lead cut to five. Koepka steadied the ship, but then bogeyed four holes in a row from the 11th-14th and the seven-shot lead he began the day with was suddenly down to one, with Dustin Johnson hot on his heels.
But the pressure Johnson had been applying soon faded and back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th meant he finished two shots back and relinquished his World Number One position to his friend Koepka, who signed for a final round 74 for an eight-under winning total.
“Today was definitely the most satisfying out of all of them for how stressful that round was; how stressful DJ made that. That was probably definitely – I know for a fact, that was the most excited I’ve ever been in my life ever there on 18,” Koepka said.
“You knew today was going to be a tough day when it was blowing 15 or 20 on the range. I left the tenth hole feeling pretty good and left 14 not feeling so good. It can change very quickly. This golf course, it’s in the trees,” Koepka added.
The win gives Koepka an amazing fourth Major victory in his last eight starts, with two US Open championships and now two PGA Championships.
“It’s been so much fun these last two years, it’s pretty close to two years. It’s incredible. I don’t think I even thought I was going to do it that fast. I don’t think anybody did, and to be standing here today with four majors, it’s mind-blowing.”
Though his runner-up finish was disappointing, Johnson was full of praise for Koepka.
“Brooks is a great player. I play a lot of golf with him. He’s one of my good buddies. You know, very happy for him, for his win. He’s one of the guys that I look for that I have to beat. He’s one of the best players out here, so he’s always somebody that I’ve got my eye on.”
Englishman Matt Wallace, secured his best finish at a Major Championship after battling to a final round 72 to finish in tied third alongside Jordan Spieth and Patrick Cantlay on two under. Two-time US PGA Champion Rory McIlroy signed for a one over par final round 71 to register his ninth top ten in his last nine starts, and he shared eighth place with Shane Lowry – who carded three sub-70 rounds at Bethpage – and Australia’s Adam Scott, among others.
Among the remaining Australians to make the cut, Jason Day was the next best, finishing T23 at +4, with Cameron Smith T64 at +11, and Lucas Herbert T71 at +12.