Brooks Koepka claims US PGA title but Tiger Woods also proved a winner

American claimed his third Major title on a day of high drama at Bellerive Country Club

Brooks Koepka fought off an inspired challenge from Tiger Woods to win the PGA Championship on Sunday (August 12), giving the big-hitting American his second major title this season. Video: The Golf Channel

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How can you have two winners on a crazy, old day in the western suburbs of St. Louis? The big winner was Brooks Koepka – the Iceman himself – who coolly and calmly lifted the Wanamaker Trophy as US PGA champion to add to his US Open trophy; the other was Tiger Woods, who most improbably carried the fight to the death only to come up short, for a runner-up finish that left no sour taste at all.

In what was the very last PGA to be held in August, before it moves to a new May date, this final round of the 100th edition of the championship produced enough drama to compare with any other in its storied history.

And Woods, for the most part, was the player – like of old – who moved the needle most of all. In what was more akin to a Ryder Cup atmosphere, as roars reverberated around the course, players couldn’t help themselves from looking at the leaderboards dotted around the course as Woods’s name was followed by a series of numbers which conveyed his upward trajectory.

Scott plays his tee shot at the 15th. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Scott plays his tee shot at the 15th. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Others, too, joined the party. Adam Scott. Justin Thomas. Thomas Pieters. Yet, as if immune to those challenges, it was Koepka – just as he did at Shinnecock Hills in June – who saw out the deal in firing a closing round 66 for a total of 264, 16-under-par, that gave him a two shots winning margin over Woods with Scott, who had grabbed a share of the lead with five holes to play, ultimately finishing in third.

Shane Lowry, too, fought a brave effort and was on target for a top-five finish until back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th ruined his card. The 31-year-old Offalyman signed for a 70 for eight-under-par 272 which left in tied-12th position. “I’m very disappointed obviously because I had a great chance. I even felt I had a chance to win coming down the last few holes, and I hit that shot into 16 (leading to a bogey). I was playing so nice. I’m very disappointed I didn’t finish better,” said Lowry.

Once again, though, it was Koepka – with Ulsterman Ricky Elliott on his bag – who held off all-comers. The man who bench-presses before rounds, but with a mental strength every bit as strong as his physical attributes, once again took control of his own destiny with a hat-trick of birdies from the seventh to the ninth. He played a bogey-free back nine, with birdies on the 15th and 16th giving him the breathing space to plot his way home.

Whilst Koepka – who became the new world number two – could keep a watching brief on Scott, playing alongside him, the roars from ahead – and all around the course as spectators watched the drama on giant LED screens – told him of Woods’s charge. Woods shot a final round 64 which propelled him into contention for a first Major in a decade, only for him to come up short, a wild drive on the Par 5 17th, where he did well to save a par, but needed a birdie or better, proved his undoing.

Woods had failed to find a single fairway on a front nine that was wild and exhilarating at the same time. It was if he impersonated Houdini with some of his escape acts, but it was brilliant and breathtaking and reminiscent of old.

That Woods has contended in the last two Majors – taking the lead in the British Open at Carnoustie last month, getting within a stroke of the lead at one point of the final round here – was something that had seemed an impossible dream just months ago after undergoing spinal fusion surgery.

Woods plays out of the hazard on the 17th. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Woods plays out of the hazard on the 17th. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

“I didn’t know what my schedule would be. I didn’t know how many tournaments I would play this year or if I would even play. So each tournament brought about its own challenges. I didn’t know what the number was going to be this year. I didn’t know how I was going to play. And so at the beginning of the year, if you would say, yeah, I would have a legit chance to win the last two Major championships, I would have said ‘with what swing?’ I didn’t have a swing at the time. I had no speed. I didn’t have a golf swing. My short game wasn’t quite there yet. My putting was okay. But God, I hadn’t played in two years. So it’s been a hell of a process for sure,” said Woods.

Koepka, who missed the Masters in April as he recovered from wrist surgery, joined an elite group of players to win the US Open and US PGA titles in the same year. Gene Sarazen. Ben Hogan. Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods. Brooks Koepka.

Collated fourth round scores in the PGA Championship, Bellerive CC, United States of America (USA unless stated, Irish in bold, par 70):

264 Brooks Koepka 69 63 66 66

266 Tiger Woods 70 66 66 64

267 Adam Scott (Aus) 70 65 65 67

269 Jon Rahm (Spa) 68 67 66 68, Stewart Cink 67 69 66 67

270 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 68 67 68 67, Justin Thomas 69 65 68 68, Gary Woodland 64 66 71 69, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 67 66 71 66

271 Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 71 67 69 64, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 70 68 69 64

272 Daniel Berger 73 65 66 68, Shane Lowry (Irl) 69 64 69 70, Brandon Stone (Rsa) 66 68 70 68, Rickie Fowler 65 67 69 71, Kevin Kisner 67 64 72 69, Chez Reavie 71 68 67 66, Jordan Spieth 71 66 69 66

273 Jason Day (Aus) 67 68 67 71, Matt Wallace (Eng) 71 66 68 68, Jason Kokrak 68 67 71 67, Zach Johnson 66 70 71 66, Webb Simpson 68 68 68 69, Kevin Na 70 69 68 66, Julian Suri 69 66 68 70, Justin Rose (Eng) 67 69 69 68

274 Dustin Johnson 67 66 72 69, Branden Grace (Rsa) 68 70 68 68, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 68 70 68 68, Patrick Cantlay 68 67 70 69

275 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 69 67 69 70, Chris Kirk 68 70 68 69, Ian Poulter (Eng) 67 70 68 70, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 73 67 67 68

276 Pat Perez 67 67 70 72, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 68 69 73 66, Xander Schauffele 70 67 67 72, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 69 70 69 68, Billy Horschel 68 69 69 70, J.J. Spaun 69 68 72 67, Russell Knox (Sco) 71 68 69 68

277 Keegan Bradley 69 68 71 69, Tony Finau 74 66 69 68, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 70 63 69 75, Ben Kern 71 69 67 70, Jimmy Walker 69 70 69 69, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 71 69 67 70, Brandt Snedeker 72 67 69 69, Sungjae Imn (Kor) 71 67 71 68

278 Seung-su Han 74 66 66 72, Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 70 67 71 70, Andrew Landry 73 65 69 71, Austin Cook 67 72 69 70, Russell Henley 74 65 71 68, Brice Garnett 71 68 69 70

279 Cameron Smith (Aus) 74 66 73 66, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 70 70 69 70, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 70 68 73 68

280 Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn) 71 68 69 72, Andrew Putnam 68 69 72 71, Ollie Schniederjans 67 71 72 70, Eddie Pepperell (Eng) 72 66 67 75, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 70 70 70 70, Ryan Moore 69 70 68 73

281 Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 73 65 70 73, Chris Stroud 69 70 76 66, Ross Fisher (Eng) 68 69 73 71, Yuta Ikeda (Jpn) 68 69 71 73, Adrian Otaegui (Spa) 73 67 69 72, Kevin Chappell 69 71 70 71

282 Nick Watney 75 65 70 72, Ted Potter, Jr. 74 66 68 74, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 68 71 71 72, Jim Furyk 69 71 71 71, Marc Leishman (Aus) 68 71 72 71, Brian Harman 72 68 71 71, Charles Howell III 74 66 72 70

283 Vijay Singh (Fij) 71 69 71 72

287 Brian Gay 67 73 75 72

289 Scott Brown 72 68 74 75

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