Brooks Koepka now in the league of legends with another major performance

With three PGAs and two US Opens, he became the 20th player with five or more majors


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Brooks Koepka celebrates after winning the PGA Championship. — Reuters
Brooks Koepka celebrates after winning the PGA Championship. — Reuters

Published: Mon 22 May 2023, 2:41 PM

Last updated: Mon 22 May 2023, 2:42 PM

Confidence was never an issue for Brooks Koepka until the injuries piled up, the doubts crept in and he began to wonder if he still belonged among golf's elite.

Koepka answered every question at the PGA Championship with a performance that ranks among his best. His fifth major title was the sweetest of them all. No doubt about that, either.

“It feels damned good. Yeah, this one is definitely special,” Koepka said. “I think this one is probably the most meaningful of them all with everything that's gone on, all the crazy stuff over the last few years.”

One knee injury kept him from the Masters, another from the Presidents Cup in Australia. Two years ago, he tried to pop his knee back into place and shattered his knee cap. And then last summer, uncertain about his future, he decided to leave the PGA Tour for the guaranteed riches of LIV Golf.

And there he was Sunday at Oak Hill, looking good as new, dominant as ever, against the best collection of golfers in the world on a punishing golf course.

Koepka ran off three quick birdies early, never lost the lead amid a gritty fight from Viktor Hovland, and closed with a 3-under 67 for a two-shot victory.

He held up his index finger as he posed next to the Wanamaker Trophy, but he may as well have held up all five.

With three PGAs and two US Opens, he became the 20th player with five or more majors. He won his third Wanamaker Trophy — only Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen with five and Tiger Woods with four have won the PGA Championship more times — and captured his first major in what felt like four years.

And to think that over the last few years, Koepka was so wounded he felt he couldn't compete, a decision that might have led to him leaving the PGA Tour for LIV Golf in a shocking move last June after the U.S. Open.

In the Netflix series “Full Swing” that began aired earlier this year, he was quoted as saying his confidence had given way to doubt. “I'm going to be honest with you, I can't compete with these guys week in and week out.”

The victory moves Koepka to No. 13 in the world and No. 2 in the Ryder Cup standings. The top six automatically qualify, and it would be hard to fathom leaving Koepka off the American team. He can only early points in the majors, and two more are still to come.

A month ago at the Masters, Koepka lost a two-shot lead in the final round by playing tentatively and was overrun by Jon Rahm. He vowed he would not do that again, and Koepka delivered in a major way, just like he used to.

Koepka, who finished at 9-under 271, received $3.15 million and the heaviest trophy among the four majors. Nothing felt more valuable than that.


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