PGA Championship 2019: Brooks Koepka now the Terminator of major championships

FARMINGDALE, NEW YORK - MAY 19: Brooks Koepka of the United States poses with the Wanamaker Trophy during the Trophy Presentation Ceremony after winning the final round of the 2019 PGA Championship at the Bethpage Black course on May 19, 2019 in Farmingdale, New York. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
FARMINGDALE, NEW YORK - MAY 19: Brooks Koepka of the United States poses with the Wanamaker Trophy during the Trophy Presentation Ceremony after winning the final round of the 2019 PGA Championship at the Bethpage Black course on May 19, 2019 in Farmingdale, New York. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) /

The PGA Championship wound up a lot closer than anybody would have guessed, but the result never changed. Brooks Koepka keeps showing up and dominating in major championships.

Strong, fearless, determined and definitely ruthless on the golf course, Brooks Koepka strutted boldly into one of golf’s toughest pressure cookers, Bethpage Black, on the final day of the 101st PGA Championship. He was ready to take down another big title, the way a monster truck might run over a sedan.

“Today was definitely the most satisfying out of all of them for how stressful that round was, how stressful DJ made that,” Koepka said to media after his victory. “I know for a fact, that was the most excited I’ve ever been in my life ever there on 18.”

After capturing his second PGA in nine months, Koepka is becoming the Terminator of majors. He’s a one-man, golf course wrecking crew with an appetite for winning like that of Michael Phelps.

When Koepka won his first U.S. Open, many people thought it might be a fluke. After all, several unknown players, who were not stars of the game and who did not ever become stars of the game, have won the occasional major. So, after his first major, he was ignored, more or less, through no fault of his own.

But when a guy wins two U.S. Opens in a row, you cannot ignore him, and he is not a fluke player.  He is a very real force of the game. When he wins a third major right away, you’re a blockhead if you don’t pay attention to him.

Jim Nantz said as much in a CBS conference call before the PGA Championship.

“It’s borderline tragic in terms of how you cover a player or subject. He’s having the best run in golf since Tiger in 2000 and 2001,” Nantz said. “We all know he’s won three of the last seven he’s played in.”

It’s now four of the last eight.

Basically, the way Koepka has been playing in majors is much like the Tiger Woods of 2000-2001.  David Duval, who faced Tiger Woods in both of their primes, called Koepka a buzz saw.

From the results, we may have already entered the Koepka era and don’t know it.  With victories in four major championships in less than two years, Koepka already demonstrated he can crush the hopes and dreams of world-class professional golfers the same way he crushes a golf ball on the tee.

This week at the PGA Championship, Brooks Koepka was just one shot ahead of Danny Lee on Thursday.  On Friday, he set a new two-day, PGA Championship scoring record of 128 by firing a 63. The lead didn’t change Saturday, giving him the lowest score ever at the PGA after three rounds.

He expected to win on Sunday. He probably didn’t expect it to be quite so difficult.

The weather and the course made it hard for anyone to really make a run at Koepka on Sunday.  And at the end, the conditions made it hard on him.

Flags were standing straight out by the time he teed off, and the wind increased during his round.  On the final nine, he had bogeys at 11,12,13, 14 and 17.  He parred the final hole from a very difficult lie in the rough between bunkers on the left side of the 18th hole. It was so bad, he could only hack it out to the fairway.  Yet he still made par and prevailed by two shots over Dustin Johnson.

"“When they started chanting, ‘DJ’ on 14, it actually kind of helped, to be honest with you. I think it helped me kind of refocus and hit a good one down 15,” Koepka admitted. “I think that was probably the best thing that could have happened. It was very, very stressful, the last hour and a half of that round.”"

One of the keys to his current success came in 2013.  That’s when he discovered he had to focus more on his own game.

“I learned that the first time I played with Tiger, this championship,” Koepka revealed. “The first nine holes, all I did was pay attention to every move he made. You know, whether he was just picking up his tee, whatever it was. And you can’t do that. You’ve got to focus on your own game.”

As far as Koepka’s ability to focus, other players have noticed it, including Graeme McDowell.

“Tiger just got — he could go to a different place mentally than the rest of us could go to, but Brooks gets himself there via the little chips, via the negative comments he gets from people, and he’s able to take himself to places like that, that, like I say, we’ve only seen from guys like Tiger, really.  It’s impressive,”  Graeme McDowell said after his final round.

“I just don’t understand why he doesn’t do it more often,” Rory McIlroy wondered. “He obviously gets into these mindsets of the majors, and he really goes and gets into a different sort of state. ”

Koepka doesn’t see what he does as any big deal.

“I don’t need a sports psychologist,” he insisted earlier in the week. “It’s simpler than what guys think. Guys make the mistake of trying to figure out, when they get to a major, what’s going on, what’s different. It’s not. It’s just focus. It’s grind it out, suck it up, and move on.”

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Mistakes are going to happen in majors, he noted.  Everybody makes them.

“If I can get off to a good start, guys got to push, and if you’re going to push on this golf course, you’re going to make mistakes,” Koepka said to media after the third round.

And that’s what happened.  Of the 156 who started the week and the 85 who made the cut, on the final nine holes, only one golfer pushed Koepka, and that was Dustin Johnson.

In the end, both of them made mistakes, Johnson trying to reach the lead and Koepka trying not to lose it.

Johnson got within one of the lead but unforced errors got him at the 15th and 16th. However, Koepka himself had five bogeys, which allowed Johnson to have a chance.

“On 12, didn’t have the easiest of par looks. 13 was a bit disappointing, and 14 was just a bit of a shock to go four in a row. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve made four bogeys in a row,” Koepka said.

Next. Brooks Koepka challenging immortals at PGA Championship. dark

So, call Brooks Koepka the annihilator, the destroyer, the conqueror, the walloper or any name of your choosing. Right now he looks a lot more like the Terminator of majors after winning his second back-to-back PGA Championship.