European Tour, 20 May 2019: Brooks Koepka secured his place in golfing history with a two-shot triumph at the US PGA Championship, where he went wire to wire to become the first male player to win his first four Major titles in less than two years.
On a brutally challenging day at the famously difficult Bethpage Black Course, the 29-year-old was made to endure a nervy finish as the Long Island wind played havoc. Just as he looked to be cruising to a comfortable victory, Koepka bogeyed four holes in a row from the 11th and the seven-shot lead he began the day with was suddenly down to one.
“It’s been so much fun these last two years, it’s pretty close to two years. It’s incredible. I don’t think I even thought I was going to do it that fast. I don’t think anybody did, and to be standing here today with four majors, it’s mind-blowing.
“Today was definitely the most satisfying out of all of them for how stressful that round was; how stressful DJ made that. That was probably definitely – I know for a fact, that was the most excited I’ve ever been in my life ever there on 18,” Koepka said.
“You knew today was going to be a tough day when it was blowing 15 or 20 on the range. I left the tenth hole feeling pretty good and left 14 not feeling so good. It can change very quickly. This golf course, it’s in the trees.
“Once it gets above the tree line, it can do whatever it wants. You’ve just got to hang tough, and it’s been so enjoyable. It was nice to finish on 18. I’m just glad we didn’t have to play anymore, that’s for sure.”
But the pressure Dustin Johnson had been applying soon faded and back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th meant he finished two shots back and relinquished his World Number One position to his friend Koepka, who signed for a final round 74 for an eight under winning total.
“I knew today, starting off, that it was going to play tough. The wind was up. It was the most wind we’ve had all week. I knew if I could get off to a good start, which I did, that I could maybe put a little bit of pressure on him and I did that too.
“Just the last three holes is what got me. Walking off the 15th green, well, standing on 16th fairway, I’m at eight-under, and hit two really good shots there on 16, and I still don’t know how my ball went over the green there,” said Johnson.
“Obviously not a spot where you can go, but I hit a great chip and a good putt, and you know, made a five. That one kind of took — you know, I knew I needed to birdie one of the last two when I did that.
“Brooks is a great player. I play a lot of golf with him. He’s one of my good buddies. You know, very happy for him, for his win. He’s one of the guys that I look for that I have to beat. He’s one of the best players out here, so he’s always somebody that I’ve got my eye on.”
Matt Wallace, meanwhile, secured his best finish at a Major Championship after battling to a final round 72 to finish in tied third alongside Jordan Spieth and Patrick Cantlay on two under. That moved the Englishman to second in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
Two-time US PGA Champion Rory McIlroy signed for a one over par final round 71 to register his ninth top ten in his last nine starts, and he shared eighth place with Shane Lowry – who carded three sub-70 rounds at Bethpage – and South African Erik van Rooyen, among others.