Brooks Koepka wins his third Major title. How the action unfolded at the 100th USPGA Championship, Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis
Brooks Koepka Denies Charging Tiger To Win USPGA Championship
Brooks Koepka has won the USPGA Championship following a nerveless display in holding off a charging Tiger Woods and a resurgent Adam Scott on a thrilling final day at Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis.
The 28-year-old has now won three Majors from his last six starts, this one coming after he successfully defended his US Open at Shinnecock Hills in June – and it was achieved by holding off two greats of the game.
After another booming drive down the final hole, Koepka enjoyed the walk with a two-shot lead, before firing another approach straight over the pin to set up a safe two-putt.
Scott had not posted a top-five finish anywhere in the world for two years, and only ran out of steam on the final few holes when a couple of pulled tee shots put an end to any potential final-hole fireworks.
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Many believed back-to-back US Open champion, Koepka would stroll to victory despite entering the final round just two shots clear, after an impressive combination of power off the tee and exquisite wedge play.
However, it proved to be anything but on a day of toing and froing as the chasing pack, littered with Major champions, refused to let the big-hitting American out of sight.
One of those was Woods, who rolled back the years to fire a six-under 64, a round littered with ‘Tiger specials’ – although he was powerless to stop Koepka, who recovered from a wobble in the middle of his front nine to hold the chasing pack at bay.
That mini crisis came when he carded back-to-back bogeys at the 4th and 5th, but he responded impressively to reel off three successive birdies from the 7th.Woods’ challenge was all the more impressive after he got his quest for a 15th Major underway on Thursday with a bogey-double bogey start, but it was vintage Tiger thereafter, even if he was erratic off the tee for much of the tournament.
The former world number one pulled his opening tee shot into a fairway bunker, but responded with a towering iron to eight feet. Only a bobble prevented him from getting off to the perfect start, but he made gains at the 2nd and 3rd to start his charge.
A bogey at the par-3 6th threatened to halt his progress, but he quickly moved back into contention with birdies at eight and nine. By the time he reached the turn he’d failed to find one fairway, but he was right in the mix.So accurate were his short irons, Woods was rarely putting from distance, his pinpoint approaches whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
One of those stunning short irons came at the par-4 15th. After coming off a bogey on 14, he found the fairway on the next and fired his approach from 164 yards to just a few inches.
However, when Koepka birdied the long par-3 16th, Woods desperately needed to birdie the 17th, but after leaking his tee shot dangerously close to the water down the right, he was unable to make a four.
Koepka’s 4-iron on the 16th was arguably the best shot of the day, his tee shot never leaving the flag and rolling up to six feet – and he coolness personified as he rolled it home for a two-shot lead.
Earlier on, Scott did his best to keep the pressure on his playing partner, briefly joining Koepka at the top of the leaderboard after making a stunning birdie at the par-3 13th.
But every time Koepka was asked a serious question he responded in style, and his back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16 were right out of the top drawer.
Woods tried to apply the pressure one last time by rolling in his birdie effort on the 18th, but Koepka was unflappable and would not be denied Major number three.
He won’t have so long to defend his title with next year’s USPGA Championship taking place in May. Before then and he may even head to Augusta as favourite for the Green Jacket.