In a dominant psychical and mental display, Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive PGA Championship with a winning score of -8.
Koepka was the wire-to-wire leader, after shooting a Bethpage Black record 63 in round one on Thursday he rolled through to the final round without issue. He then fended off a Sunday charge from Dustin Johnson, where perhaps his most impressive display of mental strength yet showed through en route to his fourth major victory in the last eight major championships.
“If you start treating tomorrow’s round differently than every other round, I feel like that’s where I would maybe be nervous or start,” Koepka told reporters at the conclusion of Friday’s round. “It’s just like any other round I’ve ever played. It’s 18 holes.”
This was the sort of golf that the 29-year-old Koepka is built for. Every bit of his raw strength was needed to conquer both the golf course, it’s thick rough, and the elements that made it so tricky — including heavy winds on the final day of play.
Koepka cruised through three days, but fended off a late run by the world #1 ranked golfer Dustin Johnson who shot a -1 during the final round. Koepka entered the final round with a seven stroke lead. That lead got as low as down to one stroke.
The win at Bethpage Black completes a Long Island sweep for the West Palm Beach native. Koepka won the 109th U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club last June.
Just six players finished the tournament under par — yet another testament to the difficulty of this behemoth of a golf course. Strong winds on Sunday made the course play more difficult through the final round to par than any other day during the event.
Coming in to the tournament, eyes were heavily fixed on fan favorite Tiger Woods, Koepka’s group mate in rounds one and two. Woods missed the cut after posting a score of three over par during round two’s back nine holes.
This after Woods cancelled a practice round on Wednesday, later telling reporters that he “got a little bit sick,” and decided to stay home and rest. Though it’s impossible to tell what specifically led to the poor performance, it’s difficult to imagine Woods was in perfect playing shape. Koepka outscored Woods by 17 strokes on Thursday and Friday.
Making waves too at Bethpage Black was fan favorite Phil Mickelson, who’s warm connection with the New York fans was front and center yet again. “I’ve always enjoyed playing here. It’s a special environment. The people here are unique,” Mickelson said after his round on Saturday. “And they’ve really given me some great memories and moments over the years.”
After his round on Sunday, Mickelson gave a strong endorsement of what lies ahead for Bethpage Black’s relationship with professional golf — gushing about the upcoming 2024 Ryder Cup being held at The Black.
“The crowds here are going to provide such a great home course advantage, and I’m excited that the PGA of America made that decision,” Mickelson said “I mean, you look at the way it is for a PGA Championship, and you can only imagine what it’s going to be like for a Ryder Cup.”
All in all it was another successful week for the PGA Tour at “The People’s Country Club,” Bethpage Black. Fan presence was lauded through the golf world, while the course proved to be a worthy host site — a strong test worthy of the PGA Tour’s best.