Brooks Koepka shrugged off challenges from a revitalized Tiger Woods and Australia’s Adam Scott on Sunday to post a two-shot victory in the final round of the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club just outside St. Louis.
Koepka, who has won the U.S. Open each the past two years, signed for a 4-under-par 66 on Sunday and finished at 16-under 264. He finished two strokes clear Woods, who has won this event four times among his 14 major titles, and another shot clear of Scott, the 2013 Masters winner.
A 28-year-old Florida native, Koepka joined Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Woods as only players to win the U.S. Open and the PGA in same season.
Koepka set the PGA Championship’s 72-hole scoring record at 264. The old mark of 265 (15 under par) was established by David Toms in 2001 at Atlanta Athletic Club’s Highlands Course.
Woods fashioned a round-low-tying 64 on Sunday to finish at 14 under. Scott shot a 3-under 67.
Koepka now has three wins in the past seven major championships — and he didn’t play in the Masters because of a wrist injury.
The victory Sunday was just the fourth of Koepka’s career, with the only non-major title coming at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. He captured the 100th PGA Championship in his 100th career start.
On his ability to come through on the big stage, Koepka told CBS Sports after accepting the trophy, “I think it’s my focus. I don’t know what it is, but I need to take it over into regular Tour events as well.
“For some reason, the majors just get my attention. Every shot is so important, and when you’re out here grinding away, firing at the flags, firing at the middle of the greens, you just have to be very patient. And I seem to do a good job of that in the majors.”
Stewart Cink, the 2009 Open Championship winner, shot a 67 on Sunday and finished in a tie for fourth with Spain’s Jon Rahm (68) at 11 under.
Thomas Pieters of Belgium (66), reigning Open champion Francesco Molinari of Italy (67), defending PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas (68) and first- and second-round leader Gary Woodland (69) ended up tied for sixth another stroke in arrears.
While everyone was focused on Woods and Koepka, Scott stayed in contention, canning mid-length putts on the 12th and the 13th holes to climb into a tie for the lead at 14 under.
Koepka broke the deadlock when he rolled in an 8-foot birdie putt on the 15th to move to 15 under. He then ripped a 4-iron to within 7 feet on the monster, 248-yard par-3 16th and calmly rolled in the putt to build his lead to two strokes with two holes to play.
Scott missed a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th that would have created plenty of drama on the closing hole. Instead Koepka went to the 18th with his two-shot lead intact. He finished with six birdies and two bogeys in the final round.
Woods had four birdies and a bogey on the front nine, making the turn at 32, and was within one shot of Koepka’s lead when he began the back nine. He left a 28-foot putt for birdie on the 11th short on the lip of the hole before jumping into a tie for second at 12 under with a 5-foot birdie putt on the 12th.
Woods then put a charge into the grounds with a walk-it-in birdie from 9 feet on the par-3 13th that moved him to within one of the lead. Woods lipped out a par putt on the 14th after his tee shot with an found the deep rough to the right of the fairway, dropping him two shots off the pace set by Koepka and Scott.
Then Woods responded in vintage style, stiffing a 9-iron from 164 yards to two feet on the 15th and birdieing the hole to pull back to within one. His birdie on the closing hole brought him up to second, and served notice that he can continue to be a force in major championships.
“I played hard,” Woods told CBS Sports. “Bit of a struggle with my game today. I was hanging in there, just grinding it out and trying to make as many birdies as possible. This golf course was giving it up, and I made a little bit of a run.”
Koepka was well aware of Woods’ charge.
“The crowds here — they definitely let you know what’s going on,” Koepka told CBS Sports after accepting the trophy. “You (fans) are awesome, first off. The beginning of the back nine, I could hear all of the roars. When Tiger started making his little run, and then Scotty (Adam Scott) made his run, it got quite loud. It was quite fun, it was enjoyable. It was enjoyable to play in front of fans who love golf and who are cheering for us.”
Thomas, playing three groups ahead of Koepka, pulled into a tie with for the lead at 12 under with back-to-back birdies on the 10th and 11th holes. However, Koepka reassumed the top spot with a birdie on the eighth and another on the ninth and turned for home at 14 under and two up on the field.
Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain and Tyrrell Hatton of England tied for 10th place at 9 under as they joined Woods in shooting 64s on Sunday.
Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth finished in a tie for 12th at 8 under after a 66 on Sunday. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson carded a 69 in the final round, leaving him in a tie for 27th.
The PGA Tour heads to Greensboro, N.C., next week for the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club.
–Field Level Media