Brooks Koepka survived a legendary charge by Tiger Woods on the back nine to win the PGA Championship for his second major of the year and his third career major victory. Koepka becomes the fifth man to win the US Open and the PGA Championship in the same year.
Brooks Koepka of the United States poses with the Wanamaker Trophy on the 18th green after winning the 2018 PGA Championship with a score of -16 at Bellerive Country Club on August 12, 2018 in St… Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Woods shot a six under par 64 in the final round, the lowest final round in a major of his career, but fell two shots short to Koepka. It was a very dramatic back nine when Koepka had near misses on his birdie putts on 12, 13 and 14 and Woods started a run. He made back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13 to get within striking distance of the leaders. After nearly holing his approach on 15 Woods and an impressive putt to save his par on 16 and closed the gap within one shot of Koepka with two holes to play.
Woods devastatingly missed the fairway to the right on the 17th hole and was forced to lay up out of the hazard. He managed to save par but Koepka made back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16 to take a three shot lead over Woods.
Tiger Woods of the United States plays his shot from the 18th tee during the final round of the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club on August 12, 2018 in St Louis, Missouri. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Woods made a bittersweet birdie on 18 to finish at 14 under par for the Championship and to fall short of claiming his 15th career major victory.
“I played hard. It was a bit of a struggle with my game today, I was hanging in there just grinding it out and trying to make as many birdies as possible. I made a little bit of a run but it looks like I’m gonna come up a couple shots short,” said Woods after his round.
“I had a hard time with my warmup. I was hitting it left, I was hitting it right. It was a struggle until I found something on the back nine. I was just hanging in there with my mind basically. It kinda got me through,” said Woods.
Woods did not find a fairway until the 10th hole in the final round. He was T122 in driving accuracy for the tournament and only hit five of the 14 fairways on Sunday. “I didn’t drive it good all day. I was struggling with my golf swing. I knew this was going to be a struggle to try to piece together a round and I did.”
“I was in contention the last two major championships and I would never have foreseen that a year ago. I’m just so thankful to be here.”
With the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup just around the corner all attention has turned on the US’s lineup. Woods said, “I do want to be on the team, as a player. Our captain has some decisions to make after the first couple of playoff events and we will all sit down and give him our input of what we think and who should be on the team and who can contribute to the team. Hopefully my name will be a part of that process.”
Tiger called Koepka “tough to beat.” “What he did at Shinnecock, just bombing it, he’s doing the same thing here. When a guy is doing that and hitting it straight and as good a putter as he is, it’s tough to beat.”
Koepka called this victory, “extremely gratifying.” He described the entire round and especially the back nine between himself, Adam Scott and Woods as a “tight race.” Koepka said, “I knew when everybody was making that charge if I just hung in there and made one more shot, kept it rolling, I knew I was going to have a chance to kinda separate myself maybe a little bit and that finally came on 15. The shots that I hit coming down the stretch were very good.”
Koepka’s childhood golf heroes, Scott and Woods, were breathing down his neck and chasing him in a major. He described this as “surreal” and that he never dreamed of the situation that he was in today. Koepka said, “I think other than me and my team, everybody was rooting for Tiger. As they should. He is the greatest player to ever play the game.”
Koepka called having three majors at the age of 28 as a “cool feeling.” He highlighted the importance of his improved discipline to remain healthy. “I’m a different person when I show up to the majors. I am very focused, very disciplined.”
After recovering from the injury that sidelined him from the Masters earlier this year he said, “I’ve never been more focused, more driven, more excited to play. To do what I’ve done is very impressive, I can’t even believe it.”
“Looking where I was sitting on my couch watching the masters and to think that I would do this I would have laughed at you and told you no way, no chance. To do it is really incredible,” said Koepka.
Once again Tiger gave us a glimpse of what he is capable of. Despite a single flaw on 17 with the errant tee shot, tiger played a near flawless round of golf. But one things is clear, all doubt and speculation has been cleared about the performance of Tiger’s game.
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