Category Archives: PGA Championship

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Brooks Koepka Survives to Capture Fourth Major Championship

FARMINGDALE, NY– Brooks Koepka once again is in a familiar spot. In the illustrious winner’s circle of being a major champion. But getting his fourth major championship would not be an easy task. Bethpage Black showed why it’s one of the toughest major championship venues in America. Koepka started to miss fairways and Dustin Johnson roared from behind back into contention. But Brooks Koepka, despite struggling down the stretch, would make the critical shots the final few holes to survive and secure his fourth major championship in his last eight appearances. With the win, Brooks becomes the first player to win his first four major championships in two years or less. And become the first golfer to be the back-to-back champion of the PGA Championship and U.S. Open simultaneously.

But most of all, Koepka is solidifying himself as the premier millennial golfer, dominating in the tournaments that matter most.

“This was my most satisfying major win,” said Koepka after the round. “I’d challenge anyone to go out and play in these conditions, they were brutal. That was so exciting to get this done.”
Brooks Koepka’s Steady, Consistent Play Shines in Final Round
The final round was all about survival and outlasting the competition for Brooks Koepka. With Bethpage Black showing it’s difficulty and punitive nature, Koepka’s strategy was simple. Put the ball in play, try to make birdies and don’t get a big score.

There were moments where the final round could have gone awry. Brooks Koepka bogeyed the first hole and his playing partner, Harold Varner III, got a birdie that resulted in a two-shot swing. Dustin Johnson, starting the day seven back of Koepka, shot three under on the Front 9, to go within four shots of the leader. It was the third time in the past two years where Koepka and Johnson were near the top of a major championship leaderboard; the previous two occurred at the 2019 Masters and last year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.

But when the winds started to swirl and the conditions became difficult at Bethpage, Koepka started to waver. With four consecutive bogeys on the Back 9, Koepka’s seven-shot lead was evaporated to one. Dustin Johnson, who was walking off the 15th green with a birdie, was starting to feel the momentum and the belief that he can snatch this major championship from Koepka. But bogeys on 16 and 17 put Johnson out of contention, paving the way for Brooks Koepka to survive and outlast the field. For Dustin Johnson, who was first in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and Proximity to the Hole Around the Green, he believes his game is in great shape to be competitive at future major championships.

“I really like the state of my game. I’ve been playing well all year,” said Johnson. “But unfortunately, just didn’t roll in the putts to get it done.”

For Koepka, it was all about getting to a finish line. Despite only converting 42 percent of fairways, Koepka made the ones he needed to the most, on 15 and 16. On the 72nd hole, his wedge shot to within 10 feet for the win, which he sank, epitomized the toughness and mental fortitude needed to secure a major championship.

“That was a stressful round of golf,” said Koepka. “The wind was up, DJ played well. He put pressure on me to play solid golf.”
Brooks Koepka Put on Major Championship Pedestal All By Himself
Bend but don’t break. That has been the mantra for Brooks Koepka all throughout his career. While his American peers were having success on the golf courses that exemplify affluence and status, Koepka was grinding his way on the European Challenger Tour. At one moment in Scotland, Koepka considered leaving the game of golf altogether. He was playing golf in 15 different countries, often staying in less than modest accommodations. He had driven through the night, survived a flat tire and only had 90 minutes of sleep before teeing off.

But this adversity, these tough conditions to overcome made Koepka a more complete player. He learned valuable lessons about never giving up and always being tenacious. This made him win on the European Challenger Tour, which eventually led to a PGA Tour card and an opportunity at stardom. For years, the golf world was focused on the rise of Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. When Brooks Koepka’s name was brought up, it was never given any credibility. Not after his first U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills. Or his back to back U.S. Open win at Shinnecock.

But his ability to win the PGA Championship at Bellerive, with Tiger Woods charging, as well as at Bethpage Black, with Dustin Johnson on his heels, puts him on a major championship pedestal all on his own. Those who doubted or criticized Koepka now are silent. It is that constant skepticism that fuels Koepka and has allowed him to become the best golfer in the world.

“Going the route that I did, it toughened me,” Koepka said. “It was a blessing in disguise.”
Brooks Koepka Becomes World No. 1
With Sunday’s PGA Championship victory, Brooks Koepka once again reclaims the title of World No. 1. He is tied for the fourth-most major wins before turning 30, behind only Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Ben Hogan.

Before Brooks Koepka, the last player to win back to back PGA Championships was Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods would intimidate opponents but also handle the emotions of adverse moments. With Brooks Koepka’s performance at Bethpage, he enters that conversation as not just the number one golfer in the world, but also the game’s most clutch golfer in the big moments.

“My belief is great right now,” said Koepka. “I’m playing great and am super confident. I did not have my best but to be able to hang in there, right the ship, and refocus, allowed me to win today.”

Most golfers would have completely quaked under the magnitude of the moment. Brooks Koepka may have blinked but he never fully collapsed. The time is now for Koepka to continue to dominate, entering his name into the conversation of one of the greatest golfers of all time.The post Brooks Koepka Survives to Capture Fourth Major Championship appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Brooks Koepka Opens PGA Championship Defense with 63

FARMINGDALE, NY– Brooks Koepka doesn’t seem too affected by the PGA Championship date change from August to May. Whenever the phrase “major championship” predicates a particular tournament, it perks Koepka’s attention. These are the events where the three-time major winner unleashes his complete, powerful game.

The PGA Championship defense could not have started more impeccably for Koepka, who fired a seven-under 63 to take a four-shot clubhouse lead and set a new course record. For Brooks, this is business as usual for someone who has been at the top of his game the last year.

When asked what his favourite hole was at Bethpage, Koepka candidly responded: “All seven I birdied today.”

That’s a golfer who is in the zone.
Steadiness & Execution Critical for Brooks Koepka’s Opening Round Success
Playing alongside Tiger Woods, who is coming off his historic victory at The Masters, is no easy task. Except for Brooks Koepka. Last year at the PGA Championship in St. Louis, when the gallery of Bellerive Country Club was rooting for Tiger, Koepka’s laser focus and stellar shot making got him to the PGA Championship winner’s circle.

While Tiger Woods would experience a roller-coaster in his opening round of 72, Koepka exemplified unwavering steadiness and execution. With the rest of the field experiencing the immense, punitive difficulty of Bethpage Black, Koepka was steadfastly solid. Among his competitors, Koepka is first in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (6.543), Strokes Gained: Approach to the Green (4.261) and Strokes Gained: Putting (3.189). His 14 of 18 greens in regulation (77.8 percent) and 9 of 14 fairways hit (64.3 percent) demonstrated that when Koepka is firing on all cylinders, he is going to shoot low scores. And in major championships, when the stage is large and the expectations are high, it is where Koepka performs superbly.
It’s Early, but Brooks Koepka Is Not Slowing Down
At The Masters, Brooks Koepka was in the driver’s seat to win his first Green Jacket and fourth major in eight appearances. But hitting his tee shot in the water on the par-3 12th, paved the way for Tiger Woods to claim his 15th major championship.

While initially disappointing, it does not falter Koepka’s motivation and belief that he can still compete in major championships.

“It’s just golf, there’s nothing to rebound from,” affirms Koepka. “Second
place, it’s not fun, but at the same time you’ve just got to move on. It’s in the past. I could care less what happened last week or a couple years ago. It’s all
about this week.”

Even with the success Koepka has had in major championships, propelling him to a brief stint at World No. 1, there still is room for more universal respect from golf fans worldwide. Despite winning two majors last year, Koepka was still not listed in the world’s most dominant athletes. But over time, it is clear Koepka is accepting his persona and is less inclined to put his guard up towards the same media who disrespected him for years.

“I think you’ve got to find a chip or you’ve got to find something to motivate yourself and give you that extra little something going into a tournament or going into an event, whatever it might be, to really want to push
you over that line,” said Koepka.

If you don’t like or doubt Koepka’s abilities, it is at your own risk. With his sixth consecutive round at the PGA Championship in the 60’s complete, it is hard to imagine Brooks Koepka not in the mix for the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday afternoon.The post Brooks Koepka Opens PGA Championship Defense with 63 appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Tiger Woods struggles in Opening Round

The reigning Masters champion and 15-time Major winner Tiger Woods got out to a slow start Thursday at the 101st PGA Championship. No stranger to New York’s Bethpage Black, Woods won wire-to-wire here at the 2002 U.S. Open and was the only player out of 156 to finish under par that year. Thursday Woods marked up his scorecard with everything from bogeys and double bogeys to birdies and even an eagle.
A difficult opening nine
Starting out on the difficult 502-yard par-4 10th hole Thursday, Woods went right off the tee for his first drive of the day. With fairways at a premium this week he was forced to lay-up from 201 yards out. A third shot over the green led to an eventual double bogey to open Woods’ quest for a record-tying 82nd PGA victory.

After four straight pars, the four-time PGA Championship winner bounced back with a birdie at the par-4 15th. A dialed in approach left Woods with a 15-footer which he rolled home with precision. Unfortunately, that was the last of the good news over his opening nine.

There was nothing positive coming out of the par-3 17th. Woods’ opening tee shot found the greenside bunker before he again flew it over the green with his second. While he was finally on the green with his third shot, he still had over 37 feet to go. Two strokes later the 43-year old carded another double bogey and a drop to 3-over par.

A routine par stopped the front nine bleeding for the time being. Woods took his opening round turn with a 38 and still plenty of work ahead of him.
From good to great to worse
In a tale of two nines, Woods came out of the gate at the turn on a mission. At the 430-yard par-4 1st hole he fired a 295-yard drive again down the right side into the rough. This time he was able to get out and send home a 14-foot putt for birdie to work his way back to 2-over.

Seemingly working out the kinks over the first half of the round Woods went back to back with another birdie at the short par-4 2nd hole. A picture perfect approach left Woods with just a little over three feet left with his third shot. From there

If back to back birdies wasn’t enough to ignite the crowd Tiger certainly lit the fuse at the 517-yard par-5 4th hole. With a 298-yard drive, Woods launched a 220-yard approach to 31 feet. From there he settled in over his putt for three, sent it reading the left break and straight into the heart of the cup as the crowded roared Tiger back to life with an eagle to soar to 1-under par.

The crowd quickly quieted after bogeys at five, seven and eight brought the roller-coaster round all the way back to 2-over par. As he turned in his scorecard, playing partner Brooks Koepka finished 7-under for the early commanding lead giving Woods and the rest of the field a lot of ground to make up Friday.

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Last Word on Golf Roundtable: PGA Championship Predictions

This week’s roundtable of predictions by Last Word on Golf’s talented group of writers tackles the 2019 PGA Championship. For more insight from each member of the Last Word on Golf team make sure to follow them at their mentioned Twitter handle. Don’t forget to follow @LastWordOnGolf on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and let us know your PGA Championship picks and predictions.
Favorite Underdog
Kyle Walton (@TheKCWalton)- Paul Casey (50 to 1)

The last Major memory golf fans have of Paul Casey is a missed cut at The Masters. Despite that, in 13 starts this season Casey has not only made the cut in 10 events but in each of those has finished no worse than a tie for 25th. Half of his made cuts were all top-10 performances including his latest start at the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago with a tie for 4th. The Englishman currently sits 17th in Driving Accuracy and could finesse his way around the treacherous Black Course.

Brenden Martin (@brendenmartin28)- Henrik Stenson (70 to 1)

Bethpage Black is a narrow course. You have to be accurate, especially off the tee. Stenson is ranked 7th on Tour in driving accuracy and has been in the mix in previous majors.

Brandon Eisenman (@BrandonEisenman)- Rory McIlroy (12 to 1)

McIlroy needs to have solid drives off the tee and hit as many fairways as possible to have a chance to contend. The former PGA winner may have a tough time at Bethpage this week, but look for him to be in contention as the weekend nears.
Biggest Name to Miss the Cut
Walton- Patrick Reed

With such a strong field this week this was the toughest prediction to have much confidence behind. While it’s true the last time the PGA Tour played Bethpage Black, Patrick Reed found victory but the 2018 Masters champion has had a tough 2019. He has yet to break through to a top-10 finish this year and has missed the cut twice in his last six starts. Additionally, Reed currently sits 169th in Driving Accuracy, 132nd in Greens in Regulation Percentage, and 126th in Total Putting; all stats you want with you, not against you at the PGA Championship.

Martin- Jordan Spieth

Spieth has been inconsistent with his play for the last few years and has struggled in key moments since he was a Major champion. He’s a great person, but he needs to regain his confidence and his game.

Eisenman- Jason Day

Day has played great golf all year long so far. However, Bethpage is one of the toughest courses in the country and he may have trouble making par on many holes. With his performance last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Day comes into this week looking to contend. But, he will miss the cut and fall in the rankings.
2019 PGA Championship Runner-Up
Walton- Tommy Fleetwood

There’s a gut feeling inside that says a European is going to make a run this week. The adverse weather conditions and thick rough set up perfectly for someone like Fleetwood to take advantage. Last week the Southport native made a strong run at the Betfred British Masters finishing tied for 8th. The 28-year old has made the cut in his last seven PGA Tour Major appearances and could take home his first Major victory this week in Farmingdale.

Martin- Tiger Woods

What Masters hangover? This is one of the greatest players in history and he has returned to glory. Watch him make a run on Sunday in his legendary red shirt.

Eisenman- Brooks Koepka

Koepka won the PGA Championship in 2018 with four solid rounds of play. Bethpage Black is a tough course to play on, but Brooks knows what it takes to contend for another major victory. Being paired with Tiger Woods this week should give Koepka a challenge as he seeks another win on the TOUR this season.
2019 PGA Championship Winner
Walton- Dustin Johnson

The 2016 U.S. Open champion is due for another Major victory so why not this year at the PGA Championship. Thus far this season Johnson has teed it up in 11 events featuring 11 made cuts, seven top-10’s and a victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship. The top-ranked golfer in the world nearly pulled off a comeback victory at the Masters but had to settle for a tie for second. Look for DJ to take advantage of his length off the tee and his continued Strokes Gained success to come home with the coveted Wanamaker Trophy this year.

Martin- Brooks Koepka

Koepka, of course, has a history of winning this tournament and has played well going into it. It will be close and not an easy course to play, but Koepka should be playing with a ton of confidence this week.

Eisenman- Tiger Woods

Woods comes into the PGA Championship searching for another major win. The 2019 Masters winner reclaimed his title of being one of the best golfers in the world with the win at Augusta in April. Tiger leads the PGA in reaching the green in regulation at 72%. Solid drives and nice shots on the green could land Woods his next major win.

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Spieth looks to complete the Grand Slam at PGA Championship

At just 25-years old three-time Major winner Jordan Spieth enters Bethpage Black with his eyes on one of the richest prizes in the world of golf. Winning the PGA Championship is a coveted title in its own right. But a victory this week in Farmingdale will earn Spieth the distinction of being a Grand Slam winner.

Just five other competitors have completed the modern day Grand Slam of golf. Gene Sarazen was the first to complete the feat in 1935. Since then Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods have each joined the club. Nicklaus and Woods, the two most decorated Major champions, have each cycled through the Grand Slam on three occasions.

In his 7th PGA Championship appearance, Spieth will look to make it an even six. Following his first PGA Tour victory, the Texas native soared up the World Golf Rankings with 10 Tour victories between 2015 and 2017. In just over that two-year stretch he added all three of his Major victories including The Masters, U.S. Open and his last victory at the 2017 Open Championship.

After claiming the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale with a commanding three-stroke victory Spieth’s recent run has less than lived up to expectations. Despite two top-10 finishes in his last six Major starts, the 2015 Player of the Year missed the cut last year at the U.S. Open and has finished tied for 28th and tied for 12th in his last two PGA Championship attempts.

The last time the PGA Tour teed off from Bethpage Black Spieth did see some success. Sharing a tie for 10th with close friend Justin Thomas, who withdrew from play Monday, Spieth finished at 5-under par and four shots off the lead. With the switch to May, Bethpage will offer a much different look than Spieth saw in 2016.

At 45-to-1 Spieth is a considerable underdog heading into Thursday’s opening round. But if he can keep it in the fairway and navigate the treacherous Black Course with poise and precision, he will put himself right back into a familiar place down the stretch Sunday.

With Spieth’s putting getting back on track this season, currently 5th in Putting Average at 1.703, the Grand Slam still seems not a matter of if but rather when for the University of Texas Alumni.

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Justin Thomas withdraws from PGA Championship

The fifth-ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings Justin Thomas has officially withdrawn from the 2019 PGA Championship. The 2017 PGA Championship winner has cited an ongoing wrist injury as the reason for missing the 101st playing of the coveted Major tournament. Thomas took to Twitter Monday afternoon to inform the golf world of his decision personally.

“Unfortunately I will be withdrawing from the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black this week as my wrist is not yet fully healed. Obviously, as a past champion, this tournament is extra special to me. It consistently has the strongest field in golf and I’m disappointed to not be among those competing this year but I’m optimistic about a return in the near future.”

Entering Bethpage Black, the 26-year old was a 12-to-1 favorite heading into the week. Thomas has been battling the injury on and off since early 2018. He has been visibly sporting tape and bracings over the past year in an effort to combat the continuing situation. Prior to last year’s FedEx Cup Thomas was open about tendonitis of the wrist continually flaring up.

The last time the PGA Tour teed it up at Farmingdale, New York’s infamous Black Course was the 2016 Barclays FedEx Cup Playoff event. That year Thomas finished tied for 10th place and just four shots behind the eventual winner Patrick Reed. Thus far this season the Crimson Tide alumni sits top-10 in a number of PGA Tour statistics including leading the tour in Birdie Average, Par-5 Scoring and Scoring Average.

After a tie for 12th place last month at The Masters Thomas will look to rest up with both the U.S. Open and The Open Championship on the horizon within the next two months. With the withdrawal, Texas native Kelly Kraft will make his third PGA Championship appearance.

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