How Brooks Koepka Won the 2019 US PGA
THE 2019 US PGA Championship at Bethpage Black was a triumph for Brooks Koepka. In successfully defending his title, the American led from start to finish.
It was the 101st edition and the first played under the new schedule in which it became the second major of the year, having traditionally been the final one for many years. It was the third time that Bethpage had staged a major, having hosted the US Open in 2002 and 2009, won by Tiger Woods and Lucas Glover respectively.
It was Koepka’s fourth major victory, two strokes ahead of Dustin Johnson. In doing so he became the first man to successfully defend both the PGA Championship and the US Open in a career, and only the fourth player to successfully defend two different majors in a career. It also took him back to the top of the world rankings.
Because of arthritis in his right knee, past winner John Daly was given permission to use a golf cart, the first player to do so in a major since Casey Martin at the US Open in 2012.
Koepka began the week in sensational fashion, opening his defence with a bogey-free round of 63, which was also a course record. Remarkably, it was the second time he had shot a 63 in a major. He originally achieved that when winning the same tournament in 2018.
World number 119 Danny Lee, who had enjoyed a stellar amateur career, was a stroke behind after a round of 64 which included eight birdies and two bogeys. England’s Tommy Fleetwood was third, four behind Koepka. In total, 16 players broke the par of 70, including Johnson, who began the week leading the world rankings. Masters champion Tiger Woods, looking to secure his 16th major, had a 72. It was an extraordinary round that contained one eagle, three birdies, three bogeys and two double-bogeys.
Koepka’s magnificent form continued in the second round, when he recorded seven more birdies and two bogeys on his way to a 65. His 128 total set a new record for the lowest 36-hole score in a major championship and his seven-stroke lead over Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth also set a 36-hole PGA Championship record and was the largest at the halfway point of any major championship since Henry Cotton led by nine strokes at the 1934 Open Championship.
Scott was the only player to score lower than Koepka, with a round of 64 that included seven birdies in the first 14 holes and a bogey at the 17th. Lee, who began the day in second place after the first round, dropped six shots in his first seven holes and finished with a round of 74. Eighty-two players made the cut at 144, four over par. Among those who missed out were Woods and Bryson DeChambeau. Three PGA club professionals made the cut: Marty Jertson, Rob Labritz and Ryan Vermeer. This was the most since the number of qualifiers was reduced from 25 to 20 in 2006.
Koepka’s level-par 70 in the third round was good enough to see him maintain his seven-shot lead. This was another record for the PGA Championship, although he failed to break the 54-hole scoring record of 196 held by achieved by David Toms in 2001.
Jazz Janewattananond and Harold Varner III had the best rounds of the day, both with 67s that saw them move into second place alongside Johnson and Luke List. Scott and Spieth both scored 72, dropping from second place into a tie for eighth.
Koepka struggled in the final round but his 74 turned out to be good enough. Leading by seven at the start, he had five bogeys in the final eight holes and with just three holes left to play the unthinkable was on the cards when Johnson closed to within a shot. But Johnson would drop shots at the 16th and 17th, allowing Koepka to triumph by two strokes. His winning total was 272, eight under par. Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth and England’s Matt Wallace finished tied for third, six shots behind the winner. Only six players broke the par of 280.
Labritz won the crystal bowl as the leading PGA club professional at 290 (+10), tied for 60th place.
“I am just so glad we didn’t have to play any more holes,” said Koepka. “That was one stressful round of golf. The wind was up. DJ played awesome so congratulations to him. He put the pressure on. But I am so glad to have this trophy back in my hands. I don’t know if I just dreamt this. It’s so cool. I am still in shock. It’s awesome."
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