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Brooks Koepka Wins 100th PGA Championship

The PGA Championship celebrates 100 years of history in 2018, and fittingly a scoring duel materialized pitting the past versus the present. Brooks Koepka wins the 2018 tournament by two strokes over Tiger Woods, but the scoring does not fully relate the bigger picture. The professional golf season and its four major golf tournaments were set up so that the PGA Championship was always the last best chance for a golfer to win a major. Starting in 2019 the PGA Championship will be moving to a new date in Spring, forever retiring their slogan of being Glory’s Last Shot.

Part of the reason the PGA Championship is moving underscores how the PGA Tour has morphed over time. The PGA Championship was built to comprise one of the best fields in golf each year, with hungry golfers looking to scratch out golfing glory. While the PGA Tour season officially ends after the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina this week, the Fed Ex Cup competition for 2018 will begin right after with a series of playoff tournaments. Literally only the highest ranking players are able to play the first event, which is a better formula for creating a field with the best players annually.

Brooks Koepka is 28-years old and played collegiate golf at Florida State. His first win on the PGA Tour came in 2015, then no other wins until the summer of 2017. If you were not paying attention to the game of golf over the last 14 months you likely missed Koepka’s major tournament uprising. He wins the U.S. Open in 2017, and then backs that up by defending his title and winning the 2018 U.S. Open. Two majors and one regular tournament win for Koepka at this point. Now at the Bellerive Club in St. Louis, Koepka out-duels fan favorite Tiger Woods to win the 2018 PGA Championship, and the exposure from battling Tiger is likely to make Koepka the next household name in golf.

Koepka joins the esteemed list of golfers having won three majors by the age of 28 joining Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. More rarified air for Koepka is joining Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan as the only other golfers to win a U.S. Open and a PGA Championship in a single season. All of the other players on both lists went on to win lots of other golf tournaments, but Koepka’s record reveals that he is better able to tune in with a laser-like focus when a major title is on the line.

Another PGA Tour player to possess the ability to collect major trophies in bunches is Tiger Woods. The 2018 PGA Championship back nine duel showcased how Woods is now playing well enough to resume his major championship pursuit, having won 14 of them in his career so far. Those titles include four PGA Championship titles, including the year 2000 when Woods won both the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, and Brooks Koepka was just ten years old then. The stellar play by Woods had the golf fans on the course fired up, with raucous cheers coming for each birdie he posted.

Koepka heard the roars loud and clear, but was able to stay calm and finish his business of playing 18 holes of golf. A lot of PGA Tour pros in their 20’s playing golf on Sunday heard something that they had never heard before in person when the fans got behind Tiger’s comeback charge, because he hadn’t won a major tournament in ten years. The stellar play by Tiger Woods and the subsequent electricity in the air turned back the clock for a few hours on Sunday, which is good for the game of golf, and Woods will have to live with finishing second. Woods has already been runner-up six times during a major in his career.

The 2018 PGA Championship, Glory’s Last Shot, will provide great memories for the fans of its rich history. But there is lots more golf to be played in 2018 including the big money associated with the Fed Ex Cup and the big prestige with the Ryder Cup coming up in Paris. Looking towards 2019, the major golf tournaments get underway with the Masters in April, and then in May it will be time for the next PGA Championship. And don’t forget that in May of 2021 the PGA Championship will return to Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, site of the 2012 PGA Championship.

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (345 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com