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This was Brooks Koepka’s third triumph in his last six majors and there can be no doubt that golf has a new global force. In a dramatic finale to the 100th USPGA Championship, the young American held off an inspired challenge by Tiger Woods to complete a famous 2018 double.
Brooks Koepka won the US Open too
Koepka’s 66 for a 16-under total was good enough for a two-shot win over Woods with one further back to the Australian Adam Scott. He rises to world No 2 but that is a mere statistical joke. The 28-year-old’s staggering progress is best measured by the fact he has become just the fifth player in history to win the US Open and USPGA in the same year. And the other four happen to be Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen.
But where Koepka differs from that garlanded quartet is that he has only won two other top-flight tournaments – one on the European Tour, one on the PGA Tour. More than perhaps anyone, Koepka has unlocked the secret of peaking exactly when he has to.
Koepka showed the nerve to operate at the highest level down the stretch when birdieing the 15th and 16th to pull away just after Scott – who tried so hard to make it an emotional tribute victory for his friend Jarrod Lyle, who passed away on Tuesday – had pulled level and Woods had fought to within one.
Tiger Woods claims 31st runner-up finish on the PGA Tour
The fans were all on Woods’s side but Koepka remained impervious. “For some reason, majors just get my attention,” Koepka said, after lifting the huge Wanamaker Trophy.
For the second major in a row, the reports of the Woods resurrection proved to be a little exaggerated. But then, it was impossible to resist reaching for the hyperbole as golf’s great icon launched his charge that at times seemed irresistible.
In the end, however, the dream came crashing down - into a ravine on the 17th hole to be exact where he hit his drive when a birdie was an absolute must. And so he had to settle for runner-up, but there is no shame in that considering where he was last year – on an operating table having a spinal fusion and then slumped over a steering wheel because of a dependency to prescription drugs.
The Masters can’t come fast enough. In his return to the game following a two-year absence, a battle with prescription drug medication and spinal fusion surgery, Tiger Woods steadily built up his body, swing and will to once again contend against the best players in the world. And it didn’t take long to find him in contention Sunday on three occasions this year.
But ever since he began his assault on Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major championship triumphs with his record-breaking tour de force in the 1997 Masters, Woods has been judged by his results in the game’s four biggest tournaments. After his magical turn at Bellerive Country Club in the 100th edition of the PGA Championship, even Tiger haters need to give him props for his performance in the majors in 2018.
Not for the first two majors — the flat outcome in the Masters, when he tied for 32nd and had no control of his wedge game, or the missed cut in the U.S. Open, when he started out with a triple-bogey and never recovered.
No, we’re talking about the last two majors. With a tie for sixth in the British Open, where he took the outright lead with eight holes to play, and a runner-up finish to Brooks Koepka in the PGA Championship, the 14-time major winner proved to the golf world and his peers that he will be a force in majors once again, that his pursuit of major No. 15 and beyond is not a pipe dream.
(Source: Telegraph UK)