CLAYTON: Koepka made of rough things

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Brooks Koepka will take the risk that the raw PGA & # 39; s get extra distance on the tee.

In Australia we have a connotation of & # 39; target golf & # 39 ;, which is somewhat separated from the reality of what we saw this week in Bethpage Park and the PGA Championship.

We mainly think of target golf as playing on soft greens with high shots that splash into overcrowded targets with the consistency of a basket of wet washing.

Much – but not all – of American championship golf takes it to another level by turning the fairways into narrow targets that are bordered by thick grass and then greens, usually quite soft, surrounded by even more long grass.

If you hit the goals – fairways and greens – you can play. Miss and you hack out.

The fairways were so narrow in Bethpage that champion Brooks Koepka hit fewer than six out of every 10, but that doesn't necessarily mean he was driving poorly.

So far he has hit, that accuracy is a necessary consideration and one of the best players is almost obliged to make.

Short – and in this era 290 yards short – is nowhere on the modern tour.

In Australia, fairway bunkers are an important defense of our championship courses, but on Bethpage they were welcome as refuges from the tall grass surrounding them.

Strangely enough, Americans prefer their fairway bunkers to be rough, while in Australia we almost always run the fairway edges to the edge of danger.

Regular readers of this column will know my thoughts about the state of the modern game well and how so many see this arrangement of holes as the only defense against modern equipment owned by bulls of men such as Koepka and Dustin Johnson, who were first and second today.

Both, along with Masters champion Tiger Woods, will be in Royal Melbourne for the Presidential Cup in December and if someone was foolish enough to determine our best course to resemble Bethpage, it would be a shocking distortion of a great golf course out there is still the very best in the world.

The golf at Royal Melbourne is also played on goals – on fairways and then greens – but there is room for maneuver and freedom of the tee and some brutally difficult short shots around the greens, but not one of them is chopped out of long grass with a three-quarters backswing and a lobwig.

The ultimate goals, the famous and feared greens, look more like roads than wet towels.

Bethpage was brutally difficult championship golf, but golf played on a distortion of the game – a game was never meant to be so punishable and devoid of interesting – rather than punitive – recovery shots for players who were not in position.

The problem is that the wave that we will see at Royal Melbourne is largely a form of & # 39; pitch and putt & # 39; will be given how short the course will be for the strongest group of men who have ever played the game.

We have seen some strong, long riders play in Australia over the years. Men like Sam Snead, Jimmy Thompson, the Dutchman Martin Roesink, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Tiger Woods and, of course, Greg Norman.

However, no one has been as tall as Koepka or Johnson and it will be both educational and shocking to see the variety of pitching clubs that they will certainly hit on the greens of Royal Melbourne.

Some will argue – as they will do at Bethpage – that the scores are the ultimate measure of the value of a course and as long as the scores are high, everything goes well with the world.

The PGA uses limited goals and long grass. Royal Melbourne uses the most difficult greens of the game to need approach shots that are close enough to the hole to reasonably hope for one well.

Koepka was brilliant all week, especially at the beginning when 63 and 65 almost finished the hope of the rest. Johnson, surprisingly, was within a shot after a quartet of back-nine bogeys by the leader and his own birdie on the difficult 15th driveway, but he immediately made a few bogeys and that was it, in fact.

Koepka has now won two US Opens and two PGA championships, the same number of majors as Raymond Floyd, a great player who won his fourth when he was 43, not far from Bethpage in Shinnecock Hills.

Koepka is not yet 30, and given how he has dominated such big championships in the last two years, we assume that at least a handful more will follow.

Someone once asked Lee Trevino if he was a "great player" and one of the genius shot makers thought his six majors were big.

Koepka is not there yet, but it is hardly an unreasonable assumption that he will win more and lead a formidable American team in Royal Melbourne with Woods and Johnson.

The wave will be very different from the shape he had mastered in New York and, I dare say, incredibly more interesting.

And if the ball were to fly 30 meters less, it would be interesting again.

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