Brooks Koepka’s doubts are haunted. The American is the first LIV professional to win a major. And an unknown golf teacher plays his way into the hearts of the fans at the PGA Championship.
After the putt to win the PGA Championship, Brooks Koepka had all doubts about his physical and golfing abilities finally gone. The 33-year-old US professional clenched his fist on the 18th green at the posh Oak Hill Country Club on Lake Ontario and hugged his caddy Ricky Elliott with a big smile.
“Looking back at where we were two years ago, I’m so happy right now,” said Koepka. “It’s just the coolest thing.” At the time, numerous injuries made him doubt whether he could still compete with the best golfers in the world.
In the Netflix series “Full Swing” he reported on the hard times with the persistent knee injury and the loss of self-confidence. “I’ll be honest, I can’t keep up with these guys week after week,” he admitted at the time. At the Major in Rochester, New York, Koepka now impressively demonstrated that he is still a player for the really big and important tournaments – it was his fifth triumph at a Major. In 2017 and 2018 he won the US Open, in 2018 and 2019 he won the title at the PGA Championship.
At the award ceremony, Koepka received the huge Wanamaker trophy for his third time. There was also a check for 3.15 million US dollars (2.91 million euros) in prize money. On Sunday (local time) the golf pro from Florida beat Norwegian Viktor Hovland and American Scottie Scheffler (both 273) with a total of 271 strokes. With second place, the 26-year-old Scheffler took over the top of the world rankings again.
Koepka is the first golfer on the new and controversial LIV Tour to win one of the four major tournaments. Last year he joined other US stars like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau from the PGA Tour to the competing LIV series.
The LIV tour is criticized for the millions invested in Saudi Arabia. “Congratulations @BKoepka your comeback was impressive. I’m so proud of you,” tweeted LIV boss Greg Norman. In Rochester, however, there were only a few whistles against the renegade Koepka.
Invited golf instructor as a star
The secret star of the 17.5 million US dollar tournament was a golf instructor from the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in California. Michael Block had already played his way into the hearts of the fans on the first three days, and in the final round the 46-year-old became the crowd favorite after his ace on the 15th hole. On the 138 meter long par 3, Block sank his ball from the tee – without the ball even touching the green – directly into the hole.
“No, no. Never. Rory, did he go in?” the stunned Block asked his prominent playing partner, Northern Ireland golf star Rory McIlroy. In the end, the golf instructor, who had received an invitation to the tournament from the PGA, finished in a strong tied 15th place to cheers from the fans.
Stephan Jäger, who was born in Munich and lives in the USA, dropped back from tenth to joint 50th place on the final day after a weak round of 76 with a total of 287 strokes. Mannheim’s Yannik Paul (293) finished the second major of his career in shared 69th place.
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