Best read with refreshing post-workout fuel.
The final round of the 2019 PGA Championship provided more drama than we anticipated, but Brooks Koepka still emerged with his fourth career major victory. Kopeka shot rounds of 63, 65, 70, and 74 to win at Bethpage Black by two shots. PGA Championship Leaderboard
After coasting through 54 holes, Koepka had to battle down the stretch on Sunday. He had a seven-shot lead with eight holes remaining, but after four straight bogies between Nos. 11 and 15, he found himself just one shot ahead of Dustin Johnson. Some of his misfortunes were his own fault, but the weather also played a role. Winds on Long Island were upwards of 30 mph at points on Sunday, the worst coming while Kopeka was on the back nine. Still, he settled in with strong pars on 15 and 16 while DJ made two bogeys of his own. An up-and-down for par on 18 left Kopeka with his fourth major title in the last 23 months.
Brooks Koepka now has six career PGA Tour victories, four of them major championships. He is the first player ever to hold back-to-back titles in two majors at the same time, and joins Tiger as the only winners of back-to-back PGA Championships in the stroke-play era (via Justin Ray). The narrative gets overplayed, but Brooks has a different gear in these events. History remembers golfers for their major wins, and Koepka is quickly rising through the all-time ranks. He is now tied for 20th in career majors may soon join Phil and Tiger as the only players in the last 30 years to have five or more.
Dustin Johnson finished as the only player within five shots of Brooks for the week, completing the career runner-up grand slam in the process. On Sunday, DJ made just one bogey through 15 holes and found himself one shot off the lead following his birdie on 15. He would go on to miss the green on both 16 and 17, making two straight bogeys and ending his chances at capturing his second major title.
We’ll get to some player notes in a second, but holy s*** was it hard to play golf at Bethpage Black on Sunday afternoon. In the final seven groups, only Dustin Johnson (69) was able to shoot under 70. The combination of high winds, thick rough, and major championship pressure made scoring incredibly difficult. Scores skyrocketed on Sunday, and as a result, just five players finished the tournament under par.
Jordan Spieth putted his ass off en route to his best finish since the 2018 Masters. Spieth led the field in putting, gaining 10.6 shots, the most of any player in any of the statistical categories. While his tie for third would suggest Spieth was in the hunt, he never threatened, and his ball-striking was lack-luster at best. Still, a top three in a major could help turn things around.
Joining Spieth in a tie for third was Patrick Cantlay, who notched his best-ever finish in a major thanks to a stellar final round 71. Cantlay also finished T-9 at the Masters, and his stellar ball-striking will make him a wonderful fit at Pebble Beach.
The final member of the group at T-3 was England’s Matt Wallace. The three-time winner on the 2018 European Tour was infamously left off the Ryder Cup team (not that they needed any help). It was just his second made cut in a major, and he bettered his former best result in a major, T-19, by a wide margin.
A final-round 74 cost him some money, but Luke List still captured his first career top 10 in a major with his sixth-place finish at Bethpage. List has been trending in the right direction for the last three years and is definitely ready to win on tour.
Jazz Janewattananond’s name made an impression on the average golf fan this week, but so did the man himself. This was just his second major championship, and he performed admirably. Although he shot 42 on his final nine to plummet into a tie for 14th, he showed clearly that he has world-class talent.
Playing in the final round of a major for the first time in his career, Harold Varner III shot a final-round 81 to finish T-36. It was a difficult day for HV3, but his composure throughout the round was laudable.
The backdoor was open for Gary Woodland, Rory McIlroy, and Matt Kuchar, who shot stellar rounds of 68, 69, and 69, respectively, to vault up the leaderboard into a tie for eighth. The trio surely benefited from early tee times that got them in before the worst of the wind on Sunday. After a dismal start, Rory was able to play the final 45 holes six-under par. Rory has now made 17 starts in major championships since his last win.
- Quick Hooks
Robby Shelton may be the hottest player in golf right now. The Alabama product won the Knoxville Open by one shot on Sunday, his second win in three weeks and his fourth top five in the last five weeks. Knoxville Open Leaderboard
Helen Alfredsson won the second edition of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open on Sunday. She triumphed at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club by two shots over Juli Inkster and Trish Johnson. Leaderboard
In case you missed it yesterday, check out our Pine Needles video, which features drone footage of the Donald Ross-designed course and commentary from restoration architect Kyle Franz.
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The Koepka Era and PGA Grades for the course, CBS, fans, and players
Andy and Brendan review a more dramatic-than-expected final day at the PGA Championship. They discuss Brooks Koepka losing his cushion and if they ever thought it was in doubt on Sunday. They assess Brooks’ future and the over-under for his career major total now that he’s won four of his last eight major starts. They also get into the tough Sunday conditions and how the course setup dramatically favored one very specific skill while eliminating others. Then they pass out grades and discuss the performances of DJ, Spieth, Rickie, HVII, the CBS production, and the New York fans. We also look forward to Pebble Beach and how that might set up for Koepka and others. In our Sunday Scaries segment, Andy wonders if they’re sweating at the PGA Tour given how the game’s best player only seems to be illuminating the superfluous nature of everything that’s not a major. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify
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