'Phenomenal' and 'mind-blowing' – Koepka basks in US PGA triumph

By Sports Desk May 19, 2019

Brooks Koepka described his major streak as "phenomenal" and "mind-blowing" after the new world number one retained his US PGA Championship trophy.

Koepka became the first man to win both the U.S. Open and US PGA titles back-to-back following Sunday's victory in New York, despite a back-nine collapse and final-round 74.

The American star bogeyed five of his final eight holes as his seven-shot lead was reduced to just one, however, he managed to keep his composure and prevail by two strokes ahead of Dustin Johnson.

It was Koepka's fourth major triumph in eight appearances and the 29-year-old revelled in the achievement – with his haul of victories only bettered by Phil Mickelson (five) and Tiger Woods (15) among active players.

"Phenomenal. I think that's a good word," Koepka told reporters as he described his winning run. "It's been a hell of a run. It's been fun. I'm trying not to let it stop. It's super enjoyable, and just try to ride that momentum going into Pebble [Beach]. I think that's four of eight, I like the way that sounds."

It has been an incredible rise for Koepka, who was a shot adrift heading into the final round of the 2017 U.S. Open. He went on to claim his breakthrough major that tournament – triggering a wave of success in majors.

"It's been incredibly quick, I know that," Koepka said during his news conference. "It's been so much fun these last two years, it's pretty close to two years. It's incredible. I don't think I even thought I was going to do it that fast. I don't think anybody did, and to be standing here today with four majors, it's mind-blowing.

"Today was definitely the most satisfying out of all of them for how stressful that round was; how stressful DJ made that. I know for a fact, that was the most excited I've ever been in my life ever there on 18."

Johnson was hot on Koepka's tail in Sunday's final round – bogeys at the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th amid rising winds opening the door for the 2016 U.S. Open champion but Koepka always felt in control.

"I felt like I was playing good," said Koepka, who leapfrogged Johnson atop the rankings. "I just made mistakes at the wrong time. This golf course, that whole stretch, from seven to 13, you've got to hit good drives. I put it in the rough. You're going to have a lot of short par looks.

"I challenge anybody to go play this golf course in 15- to 20-mile-an-hour winds and see what they shoot. DJ played a hell of a round. That was pretty good. This golf course, it will test you for sure."

Asked if he worried that he would fail, Koepka replied: "It was definitely a test. I never thought about failing. I was trying my butt off. If I would have bogeyed all the way in, I still would have looked at it as I tried my hardest. That's all I can do. Sometimes that's all you've got. Even if I would have lost, I guess you could say choked it away. I tried my tail off just to even make par and kind of right the ship.

"But I never once thought about it. I always felt like once I had the lead, he's going to make one more birdie and I've got to make a bogey for this thing to kind of switch. I think hitting 15 tee shot down the middle of the fairway definitely kind of helped ease a little bit of the tension, knowing that that pin was kind of in a gettable spot but then hit a terrible wedge shot. I don't know how you miss that slope, but I did."

Related items

  • Woods rues Tour Championship absence after glory of comeback title Woods rues Tour Championship absence after glory of comeback title

    Tiger Woods admits missing out on this week's Tour Championship is a blow, but nothing will take away special memories of when "all hell broke loose" during last year's triumph.

    Despite winning the Masters in April, for his first major title in 11 years, the 43-year-old has not produced the consistency required to finish in the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings.

    Woods is joined on the sidelines by Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day, among a host of star names who will be absent from the East Lake action on Thursday.

    A $15million top prize is on offer, but it was not about the money for Woods last year as he won by two shots for his first tournament win in five years.

    Back injury strife had raised concerns over whether Woods would ever again be a contender, but he carried off the trophy on an emotional Sunday in Atlanta, and used that as a platform to build towards the Masters.

    Now though, Woods has to suck up the pain of failing to make the elite field.

    "It was disappointing not to make it," Woods said. "Last year culminated in a great win, and it turned into what happened, I'm sure, at Augusta, because I was able to prove to myself that I could win again.

    "I had come close a couple times and wasn't able to take it over the line, and finally I was able to do that.

    "And now I didn't qualify for that event, to go back there, and I wouldn't say quite defend it, but at least be a part of it and play in it. I wasn't able to do that.

    "So yeah, it is frustrating. It is disappointing. But that's the way it goes."

    Woods was speaking in a teleconference looking ahead to the Presidents Cup in December, when he will captain a United States team in Australia. He has not ruled out playing in the match, too.

    Should he find anything close to the form that made him a winner at the Tour Championship 12 months ago, Woods would be an asset to any team.

    As he approached the 18th green on the final round at East Lake, enormous crowds flocked behind the American, energised and eager to see Woods polish off a famous victory.

    "It gives me chills almost every single time I see it," Woods said. "At the time, it didn't seem like that because I didn't really look back. I only looked back a couple of times over my right shoulder."

    Speaking on the PGA Tour website, Woods recalled how "everyone just busted loose behind us and all hell broke loose".

    "I got on the green, I looked, and I'm like, Holy cow, there's a lot of people out there," he said.

    Rory McIlroy was partnering Woods in the final round but fell away from contention and the Northern Irishman found appreciating the unfolding story alongside him to be difficult.

    But he recalled looking back up the fairway as Woods tapped in to win and said the scene "was unbelievable".

    "Everyone was so happy for him," McIlroy said.

    "People need external things to make themselves happy and remind themselves of the good old days or whatever, and that’s what it was like; Tiger was winning a golf tournament, and it was the good old days."

  • Tiger not ruling out playing at Presidents Cup Tiger not ruling out playing at Presidents Cup

    United States captain Tiger Woods has not ruled out playing at the Presidents Cup, saying the final decision would be his.

    Woods will lead USA against the International team in Melbourne in December as they chase an eighth straight Presidents Cup win.

    Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson headline a star-studded USA outfit, but Woods may yet choose himself as a captain's pick.

    "My job as the captain is to put together the best team possible and try and put together the best 12 guys," the 15-time major champion told reporters on Monday.

    "That's what I'm trying to do. We'll be going through the whole process of having open communication with our top eight guys and my vice-captains.

    "That is something that we will certainly talk about, whether I should play or not play. Ultimately, it's going to be my call whether I do play or not as the captain.

    "But I want to have all of their opinions before that decision is made."

    Woods has struggled since winning the Masters in April, missing two cuts and withdrawing from the Northern Trust as he failed to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship.

    He finished 13th in the Presidents Cup standings for USA, behind the eight qualified players – Koepka, Thomas, Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and Bryson DeChambeau – and Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed.

  • European Tour announces new plan to tackle slow play European Tour announces new plan to tackle slow play

    Golfers will incur a one-shot penalty if they breach time allowances twice in a round from next season under new regulations introduced by the European Tour.

    The issue of slow play has been a hot topic in the sport of late, with Bryson DeChambeau's overly methodical approach at The Northern Trust last weekend a target for particular ire.

    What action the PGA Tour chooses to take on the matter will now be a source of intrigue after its European counterparts announced a four-point plan focusing on the areas of "regulation, education, innovation and field sizes".

    Fines for players persistently identified as needing to be timed – known as being "on the clock" – will increase from November this year on the tour. At present, 15 timing offenses brings a £9,000 fine but that will rise to £26,000.

    At next month's BMW PGA Championship, the new Pace of Play timing system will be trialled.

    A statement from the European Tour read: "When players are out of position and either being monitored or timed, a one-shot penalty will be incurred after two bad times – currently a player would be 'monitored' and if he breaches the time allowance (50 seconds for first to play, 40 seconds for second or third to play) he will then be 'officially timed' and would then have to breach twice more before being given a one shot penalty.

    "Players will, however, have the option to request one time extension per round, giving an additional 40 seconds to hit a shot on this request."

    The tour will also seek to cut field sizes where possible to encourage quicker play, while referees are to be encouraged to target slow players when it comes to being in position.

    Players will have to pass an interactive rules test as part of their conditions of membership.

    Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, said: "We are already at the forefront of pace of play management in the professional game, but after being mandated by our Tournament Committee to be even firmer in dealing with this issue, the time was right to take these additional steps.

    "I believe the plan we are implementing for the 2020 season will bring about meaningful change that will make golf even more enjoyable for the players and our fans, whether they are at the course in person or watching on television."

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.