Tiger Woods shines, but Brooks Koepka’s star burns brightest at PGA Championship in victory
ST. LOUIS — Over an ear-splitting afternoon in which most of the cheers weren’t for him, Brooks Koepka got a taste of what golf feels like when Tiger Woods is in the hunt.
And in his exhilarating but ultimately futile attempt to catch Koepka at the PGA Championship, Woods got a taste of what it’s going to take to get back on top in the majors.
Woods provided the thrills Sunday — a fist-pumping, club-slamming, roller-coaster ride of a final round in which he threatened from beginning to end but couldn’t knock Koepka out of the lead, or deny him the trophy.
Koepka heard the commotion in front of him all day — “You could hear a different roar like every 30 seconds, so we knew what was going on,” he said — but did what he does best at the majors: He put on a calm, collected show of precision golf to hold off Woods by two shots and become only the fifth person to win a U.S. Open and PGA Championship in the same year.
When it was over, Woods had a warm hug and a huge smile for the guy he calls “Brooksy.”
“It’s tough to beat when the guy hits it 340 down the middle,” Woods said. “When a guy’s doing that and hitting it straight, and as good a putter as he is, it’s tough to beat.”
Koepka set the PGA Championship record with a four-day score of 16-under 264. His best shot over a final round of 4-under 66 was a lasered 4-iron to the 16th green that landed 6 feet away and set up a birdie. That gave Koepka a two-shot cushion that allowed him to coast into the finish.
Drama? That was Woods’ domain.
Boy did he deliver.
Over a wild first nine holes, Woods didn’t hit a single fairway off the tee but got up and down from everywhere. He needed a grand total of 10 putts to make the turn in 3-under 32 and stay within two shots.
He hit a poor approach on No. 11, but stared down a 30-foot putt for birdie that would have kept momentum on his side. The ball came to rest on the inner-edge of the cup — much like the famous chip-in on the 16th hole at Augusta in 2005. That one went in. This one stayed out, and Woods bent down and dropped his hands to his knees in agony.