Brooks Koepka stared down his idol Adam Scott and ignored the noise of a Tiger Woods-generated Sunday roar to claim a pulsating 100th US PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club in St Louis.
A perennially underrated figure for the emotionless way in which he approaches the game – highlighted by his decision to hole out from a few inches at the 72nd hole rather than mark and own the moment – Koepka joined rare company shared by Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as players to have won the US Open and PGA in the same year, holding off a resurgence by Scott inspired by the spirit of Jarrod Lyle.
When the final round began Australia’s hopes rested with Scott and Jason Day but when he made bogey a the 10th hole Day’s hopes evaporated as Scott kept pace at the top of the leaderboard.
Prior to his breakout win at the US Open last year Koepka shared dinner with Scott where he told him of his admiration for the 38-year-old but there were few pleasantries on Sunday as he clinically disposed of a star-studded leaderboard.
An underwhelming Koepka par at the par-5 17th in the wake of a booming 338-yard drive gave Scott a chance to reduce the deficit to just one but his seven-footer missed on the low side to effectively end his pursuit of a second major championship a bogey at the 18th hole resulting in a third-place finish behind Koepka and Woods.
“It was a bit of a slow start but everyone kind of struggled a little bit at the start and then got going around the turn,” Scott said post-round.
“There were a lot of roars happening out there and it was good fun to be in it.
“Just missed putts on 14 and 15 and Brooks made them and my momentum was gone.
“I had high hopes for today, especially with four or five to go being tied with Brooks.
“I’m definitely playing a lot better and moving in the right direction so that’s positive and at a good time of the year with the (FedEx Cup) playoffs coming up around the corner.”
Both Koepka and Scott wore yellow ribbons on Sunday to signify their support for the Lyle family after Jarrod’s passing on the eve of the tournament but it was the Florida native who took the early advantage, Koepka’s birdie and Scott’s three-putt bogey creating a four-shot separation after the opening hole.
As Scott and Day tried to keep pace in the logjam of players at 9-under early in the round, the Gold Coaster elevated himself with birdies at seven and eight and then three more at 10, 12 and 13 brought him level with Koepka with five holes to play.
He had a putt at 14 to take sole possession of the lead but like the rest of the field soon succumbed to the “human bulldozer” that is Brooks Koepka, who after missing birdie chances at 12, 13 and 14 made back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16 to take possession of the Wanamaker Trophy and favouritism for Player of the Year honours.
Day’s final round of 1-over 71 saw him finish in a tie for 19th at 7-under par while New Zealander Ryan Fox recorded his best finish in a major, a 2-under par round of 68 completing his week at 6-under and tied for 27th.
Cameron Smith made the cut courtesy of a second round 66, a score he replicated on Sunday to move up 21 places on the leaderboard and a tie for 56th, Marc Leishman ending the week tied for 71st after a Sunday 71.
Arizona-based Aussie teaching professional Craig Hocknull performed admirably in his major championship debut with rounds of 72-73, missing the cut by four shots but finishing ahead of the likes of Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.
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