There has been no other player in the history who has defended the US Open and the PGA Championship titles back to back, that’s just what 29-year-old Brooks Koepka did at Bethpage Black. Clouted as the toughest course this year on the tour, Koepka shattered the myths with an opening round of 63, which he later followed with 65, 70 and 74, that 74 there on Sunday looked like can open up the chance for the past No.1 Dustin Johnson, who came as close as one-shot with Koepka by the 15th hole.
Koepka bogeyed back to back from 11 through 14, giving ample opportunity to Johnson but Johnson faltered with bogeys on 16 and 17, and Koepka edged him out with needing only bogey or better on the final hole.
“When they started chanting, “DJ,” it actually kind of helped,” he said. “I think that was the best thing that could have happened.”
This was his eighth start in a major since he first won the 2017 U.S. Open and followed it with another in 2018 and PGA Championship, a month later. Truly, Koepka wasn’t a favourite entering the tournament, and how could he? As the pundits had declared Tiger Woods, the winner already, who had parked his $20 million yacht at Oyster Bay, New York, paying $1000 per day in parking charges, two weeks in advance and after taking ample amount of rest post his recent Masters heroics.
It wasn’t intimidating to Koepka at all, who in his pre-event press conference said, “The easiest thing to do is win majors”. He had the guts to say those words and dominate the field like no other did before El Tigre!. So where does the confidence come from? Through his gym routine, or his past performances? He tore into the competition with a record seven-stroke lead on Saturday and Sunday. Brooks as we know of is the only player in the history to defend his US Open and the PGA Championship, back to back.
Tiger Woods has never done it. Jack Nicklaus has never done it. Arnold Palmer has never done it. None of golf’s all-time best have achieved the rare feat.
Now the question arises, with the U.S. Open set to be staged next month at the Pebble Beach, can Koepka three-peat?
Fairways hit: 32 of 56 (T44)
Driving distance: 304.9 yards (3rd)
Greens hit: 53 of 72 (1st)
Proximity to the hole: 30’, 1” (2nd)
Strokes Gained statistics: Tee-to-Green: +17.354 (1st)
Off-the-Tee: +6.694 (2nd)
Approach: +9.533 (1st)
Around-the-Green: +1.128 (31st)
Putting: +1.148 (46th)
Total: +18.502 (1st)