Brooks Koepka Proves That Class Really is Permanent
BROOKS KOEPKA was roundly booed by fans on the first tee at Oak Hill on Saturday because of his involvement with LIV Golf.
However, the 33-year-old American won them over with some brilliant golf over the weekend. In doing so, he proved that class really is permanent.
Just last year Koepka was in despair, recovering from injury and wondering whether he would ever again be able to play the game at the highest level.
He proved that he was almost back to his best at The Masters in April, where he finished tied second behind Jon Rahm. Koepka finished that week alongside Phil Mickelson, another LIV rebel.
The fans at Augusta showed both men, and the other LIV members in the field, due respect - but spectators at The Masters know that if they misbehave they will very quickly be shown the exit door.
This was the first real test for the LIV golfers. And Koepka showed that playing 54-hole tournaments has not dulled his competitive instincts.
On the the face of it his success may well provide a boost for those involved in promoting LIV Golf, but for Koepka this was the climax to a personal journey.
In the the run-up to the tournament he spoke about how he felt that he had choked at Augusta when the pressure was really on.
Ahead of the final round he said that he was going to continue to attack the flag on what is a brutally difficult golf course and duly birdied the second, third and fourth holes to open a four-shot lead.
It was a sensational start. The last 54-hole leader at a major to go three under or better in the first four holes of a final round was Ian Baker-Finch on his way to victory at the 1991 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
Koepka saw his lead cut to a single shot after finding the water off the tee on the sixth hole, while both he and Hovland dropped shots at the seventh.
Both players then became involved in a superb duel that only ended on the 16th hole when Hovland hit his second shot into the face of a fairway bunker. The Norwegian was given a free drop in the rough and could only make double bogey from there.
So where do we go from here? Understandably, there remains a great deal of animosity surrounding LIV Golf, and where its money comes from. But the bottom line is that golf fans want to see the best players in the world going head to head in majors.
The next one is the US Open at the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club. LIV golfers may once again received a mixed reception. That is unlikely to happen at The Open Championship in July.
There is a growing feeling within the sport that a compromise might not be far off. Rory McIlroy has already made it clear that he will not be making any further public utterances about LIV Golf. You can be sure that the PGA of America would rather a LIV golfer had not won their tournament but the bottom line is that he was far and away the best player in the field for four days.
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