Brooks Koepka created history on the way to winning his fourth major in two years and a second successive PGA Championship title.
Less than 12 months after winning the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club, Koepka set a new major record during his march to a repeat success—this time at Bethpage Black in the event’s new May timeslot.
While Bethpage Black turned out to the beast predicted for so many of his rivals, Koepka posted a new record 36-hole total of 12-under for any major, beating the previous best by two shots. That including a record-equalling opening round of 63, which set him on the way for a wire-to-wire success.
Still leading by seven shots heading into the final round, things did at least get a little interesting as four successive bogeys for Koepka, coupled with a Dustin Johnson charge, saw the lead reduced to just one shot.
But when Johnson bogeyed holes 16 and 17, it was left to Koepka to finish on eight-under par and cruise to a two-shot victory which had threatened to be by a significantly greater margin.
That is now four major wins from the last eight tournaments with the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Opens followed by victory in the last two PGA Championships. He also finished runner-up to Tiger Woods in the U.S. Masters this year too.
“Four out of eight,” said Koepka, who finished with a four-over par 74 final round. “I like the way that sounds. I never thought about failing.
“Today was definitely the most satisfying out of all of (the major wins) for how stressful that round was. I know for a fact that was the most excited I’ve ever been in my life, there on 18.
“I’m just glad we didn’t have to play any more holes. That was a stressful round of golf.”
The pressure that came from Johnson closing to within one shot was something that Koepka actually fed off during the closing stretch at Bethpage Black.
He said: “I’m glad to have this trophy back in my hands. With the ‘DJ’ chants, I was aware of what was going on. He did an unbelievable job of putting pressure on me.
“When they started chanting for DJ on the 14th, it actually helped. It helped me focus. I think it was the best thing that could’ve happened.”
For Johnson is was another case of so-near, yet so-far in majors. The world number one has the one major on his CV—the 2016 U.S. Open—but he has also been the nearly man on so many other occasions, including at Bethpage.
It was the second successive runners-up finish in majors after also tying second with Koepka in the Masters, and his fourth in total. He has now finished in the top 10 in 17 majors, with only the one turned into victory.
Matt Wallace enjoyed a career best finish of third in a major along with Jordan Spieth and Patrick Cantlay, while Luke List in sixth was the only other player to break par for the week.