USA TODAY Sports Images

Liguori: Brooks Koepka Is Grabbing The Recognition He Deserves After PGA Championship Win

Ann Liguori
August 13, 2018 - 10:59 am

The world is getting to know Brooks Koepka if they weren’t paying attention already. Confident. Focused. Driven. Powerful. Unflappable. Those are just a few of the adjectives to describe this extraordinary golfer who has vaulted his way into the history books in a year’s time.

The 28-year-old from West Palm Beach, Florida, pulled off a feat that only four other players in history have achieved – winning the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open title in the same season. Koepka joins Tiger Woods (2000), Jack Nicklaus (1980), Ben Hogan (1948) and Gene Sarazen (1922) as the only golfers to accomplish this.

Koepka shot a 4 under 66, finished at 16 under par 264, establishing a new PGA Championship 72-hole record, looking as calm as could be, while the massive crowd who packed Bellerive Country Club, cheered on a relentless Tiger Woods, who ended up finishing second, two shots back. Adam Scott was tied for the lead until Koepka birdied and then Scott bogeyed the 18th to shoot a 67 and finish in third place, three shots back.

“It's extremely gratifying,” Koepka said afterwards. “When you look at 4 and 5 to make two bogeys there, and I think I was tied for the lead at that point. I figured, obviously, I had to get it going, to birdie 7, 8, 9 was kind of a big momentum shift for me, I felt like. And especially with Tiger making that run, basically, right at the same time when we were on, I think, 10 green. And then from 12, Scotty (Adam Scott) birdied 12 and 13, and it became a really tight race.”

“But the shots I hit coming down the stretch were very good. We had a perfect number into 15, and then 16, I mean, I hit a laser right at the flag. That will probably go down as probably one of the best shots I've ever hit under pressure.”

The former Florida State Seminole bombs his drive, averaging 324.1 yards off the tee. He muscled his way out of the thick rough. His approach shots are razor sharp. He’s a great putter although he admitted that he didn’t have “quite the touch on the greens” on Sunday, missing several short birdie opportunities. His ‘Popeye’ physique is due to his daily workouts in the gym that he often does with his best buddy, Dustin Johnson.  

We watched Koepka tear up Erin Hills in the 2017 U.S. Open to win his first Major title. Then we saw how focused and driven he was when defending his title at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock just two months ago, on a course that seemed near impossible for most of the field. He became the first U.S. Open repeat champion in 29 years. And on Sunday, he prevailed at Bellerive, seemingly oblivious to the pressure of closing out a Major and the star power behind him, namely Tiger

Woods, who played and looked like the determined superstar who won 14 Major titles. Koepka heard the roars as vintage Tiger charged up the leaderboard, pumping his fist, cutting his four-shot deficit to two.  

“I mean, everybody on the golf course heard it,” Koepka said. “It was actually quite funny. You could hear the roars when we were on 10 and 11, and then you could kind of hear it trickle down as they changed the leaderboards all the way through. You could hear a different roar like every 30 seconds. So we knew what was going on. It's pretty obvious when Tiger makes a birdie. I think everybody at the golf course cheers for him. I'm sure everyone is rooting for him.”

“You know, I remember the loudest roar I think I've heard was when I was hitting my putt on 8. I don't know, did he birdie 9? Yeah, he birdied 9. When he made that putt, and I was over it, and everybody's roaring, I'm like, all right, just make this one and try to get through that. But I mean, the roars -- the crowd was unbelievable with the amount of people that were out here is incredible.”

What’s even more incredible is that Koepka was sidelined for several months early in the season, sitting out The Masters, because of a wrist injury.

“When I look at what I've done in the past two months, it's incredible,” says Koepka. “Looking where I was, sitting on my couch watching the Masters, and to think I would do this, I would have laughed at you and told you there was no way, no chance, and to do it is really incredible.

My doctors, physios, trainers, everybody did an unbelievable job even to get back out on the golf course, and to do what I've done is very impressive. I can't even believe it.”

That period of not being able to play, due to injury, sitting on the sofa and watching your peers have the opportunity to compete and do what they do best, had to have been a huge turning point for Koepka in terms of wanting to get back out there so bad and proving what he can do.

And now Koepka has won three of the last six Major Championships he has played in. Get to know Brooks Koepka because I have a feeling he’s only getting started.