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How Brooks Koepka Struck a Major Blow For LIV

By: | Mon 13 May 2024

Twelve months ago a resurgent Brooks Koepka became the first LIV golfer to claim a major as he cruised to victory in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, seeing off the challenges of Scottie Scheffler and Viktor Hovland.

Koepka carded a three-under 67 to win his fifth major on nine under, two shots clear of Scheffler and Hovland.

Scheffler, who returned to world number one, shot a 65 to get to seven under, while Hovland - who had a double bogey on the 16th - shot a two-under 68. Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy carded a 69 to end joint seventh on two under.

There was also a magical moment when south California club professional Michael Block once again illuminated the East Course with a hole-in-one at the 151-yard par-three 15th.

The 46-year-old was one of 20 club professionals at the championship, but the only one to make the cut and he delighted fans all week with his carefree attitude. 

And they erupted once again to celebrate the ace, although Block was only aware of his feat after he asked his playing partner McIlroy, "Rory, did it go in?" before the two shared a warm embrace. Block's ace was the first at this championship since 2020 and helped him finish joint 15th, which earned him an exemption for this week's tournament at Valhalla.

However, even he could not distract from a moment of redemption for his fellow American Koepka, who held a four-shot lead at 2023's Masters before eventually finishing as runner-up to Jon Rahm.

Brooks Koepka

It was the third time in five years that Koepka had played a major championship in the state of New York and come out on top.

"This is incredible," Koepka said. "I look back at where we were two years ago. I am just so happy right now, this is just the coolest thing.

"I don't know how many guys have won five times, but to be with those groups of names is absolutely incredible and I'll be honest I'm not even sure I dreamed of it as a kid.”

He joined greats of the game Seve Ballesteros, Peter Thomson, Byron Nelson, John Henry Taylor and James Braid as a five-time major winner. It was all the more remarkable given it came just two years after Koepka underwent major knee surgery. 

Koepka collected the Wanamaker Trophy and a cheque of $3.15m [£2.53m]. He also became only the sixth player to win the Championship on three or more occasions - joining Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus (five), Tiger Woods (four), Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead (three).

Koepka was roundly booed by fans on the first tee on Saturday because of his involvement with LIV Golf. However, his sustained brilliance over the third round and again on Sunday ensured he received the adulation of the galleries as he tapped in his winning putt.

His success provided a significant boost for those marketing the Saudi-funded circuit but for an emotional Koepka, a player whose career was potentially in jeopardy not so long ago, it appeared to strike a more personal chord.

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Tags: us pga PGA Championship PGA

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