P.G.A. Championship: Koepka lets lead to evaporate but lingers

Posted by on May 22, 2019  /   Posted in golf reviews

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – Brooks Koepka & # 39; s heartbeat, he said Saturday night, probably wouldn't differ much if he sat on the couch and the 101st P.G.A. Championship or measuring a putt on Bethpage Black & # 39; s 72nd green to win it.

"I would say that I am mostly ironed," he said.

Fast forward to dusk on Sunday. Koepka's face was frightened when he stood on the par-3 14th green and studied his fourth consecutive bogey putt. In the run-up to becoming the first man to hold back-to-back titles in two majors at the same time, Koepka suddenly stared at a more disgraceful piece of history: he threatened to become the first player to blow a seventy-second, final day. lead in a PGA Tour event, much less a major.

"I was just in shock," said Koepka, who back nine wobble wind-induced weather conditions that shivered at 30 miles per hour to successfully defend his PGA title. He concluded with a & # 39; four-over-par 74 & # 39; for a 72-hole total of eight-under-272, two strokes better than his close friend and training partner, Dustin Johnson, who took Koepka & # 39; s ahead of one before throwing two of his last three holes for a 69.

Koepka, 29, displaced Johnson as the number 1 in the world and joined Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only men to win four major titles in less than two years. He will be looking for his fifth main title and his third consecutive United States Open crown on Pebble Beach next month.

"That was a stressful round of golf," Koepka said, adding that Johnson "did an incredible job" of putting pressure on me. "

[Does golf have a new king? Brooks Koepka’s peers aren’t so sure.]

Circumstances took their toll on everyone. Harold Varner III, who played with Koepka in the final clutch, placed an 81 – 14 beating higher than his score on Saturday. Paul Casey, who lasted more than five hours for Koepka and Varner, said the dog was adorned with an emotional backing that he passed on his way to the scoring area "is what I feel I need after playing that golf course."

And Casey charted a 69, one of 11 sub-70 scores on Sunday.

The course is a beast in the most favorable conditions, but on Sunday afternoons the winds started, causing the CBS blimp was caused to evacuate the airspace above the runway while Koepka was at the front in 9. The wind caused havoc with Koepka & # 39; s shots during his bogey binge, which started on the par 4. 11 Koepka looked disbelieving when his tee shot on the 149-yard par-3 14th was caught in flurry and sailed the green.

The chants of "D. J.!" At 14 were meant to rattle Koepka. Instead, the embrace by his closest rival's fan helped him refocus.

"It was as if & # 39; I have everyone against me – let's go & # 39 ;," he said.

The success of Koepka is a victory for late bloomers. He preferred baseball as a child, but reluctantly gave up the sport, he said as he approached high school, "because I couldn't hit a house cyclist to save my life and I was a loser for the curveball."

That dropped golf, which Koepka learned at the public courses of West Palm Beach, Fla. He did not distinguish himself on the national stage as a junior player and was recruited lightly from high school. Koepka ended up in the state of Florida, where he became a triple all-American but only won a college tournament in his final year.

After retraining, he improved his race on the minor circuit of Europe, the Challenge Tour, winning four times with a total of 23 strokes.

Koepka is not someone who needs to think about a shot; if he got his way, golf would be an anaerobic sport. And he doesn't rely on a sports psychologist to stay healthy. He doesn't have to, because he is not someone who lets his score, good or bad, dictate his self-worth.

"If I had been in a boycott," Koepka said, referring to the back nine, "I would still have looked at it as if I was trying the hardest. Sometimes that's all you have." "

Most players better relate to Jordan Spieth, who spoke earlier this year about letting his bad laps seep out of his track in his life, or Rory McIlroy, who is building an impressive library with books that spread the perspective he formulated after winning the Players Championship in March: "I am not my score; I am not my result." With this victory, Koepka passed Spieth, 25, who has three major titles but none since 2017, and equal to McIlroy's most important title total, who won his fourth at the British Open in 2014

"He clearly finds himself in these majors in the majors, and he goes real and comes in a different kind of state "said McIlroy about Koepka, who has two PGA Tour titles outside of the majors.

Koepka is like the baseball slugger Reggie Jackson in October, the hockey forward Justin Williams in May or the swing man Andre Iguodala in June; he is at his best when the pressure is greatest, as evidenced by the fact that all but two of Koepka's career PGA Tour titles have entered the majors.

The one-off P.G.A. champion Rich Beem said that Koepka reminded him of another four-fold big winner, Raymond Floyd. "Exactly as he attacks the game," Beem said on Sunday after judging a 69. "The way he thinks, the way he talks, the way he acts – nobody will intimidate him."

In Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Just up the road from where Koepka grew up, Floyd watched most of the final lap.

"I am totally impressed with his game," Floyd said about Koepka, adding. "When I got to the zone, I always felt like I was playing the golf course – I was against every hole – and I felt very confident leading and that's what I see him watching."

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