Brooks Koepka hangs on to defend US PGA Championship title despite late wobble

20 May

Brooks Koepka survived an unexpectedly nerve-racking final round to defend his US PGA Championship title and claim a remarkable fourth major victory in his last eight starts.

Koepka had followed a course record of 63 on Thursday with a second round of 65 to set the lowest halfway total in major championship history and took a tournament-record seven-shot lead into the last day at a blustery Bethpage.

Koepka held off Dustin Johnson on the final day

No player has ever surrendered such a lead in a major after 54 holes and the 29-year-old remained six clear with eight to play, but bogeyed the next four holes to allow good friend Dustin Johnson to close within a single shot.

However, with the raucous New York crowd now chanting his name, Johnson dropped shots on the 16th and 17th to give Koepka the breathing space he so desperately needed.

To his credit, Koepka vitally found the fairway on both the difficult 15th and 16th holes and had the luxury of dropping a shot on the 17th before completing a closing 74 to finish eight under, two shots ahead of Johnson.

England’s Matt Wallace was four shots further back in a share of third place with Jordan Spieth and Patrick Cantlay, with Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry among a tie for eighth on one over.

Koepka will replace Johnson as world number one on Monday and with the US PGA moving from August to May this year, he is the first player to hold back-to-back titles in two majors at the same time following his US Open wins in 2017 and 2018.

Birdies on the fourth, sixth and ninth had taken Johnson to the turn in 32 and reduced the gap to four, Koepka having made a poor start with a bogey on the first before reducing the par-five fourth to a drive and an eight-iron to set up a two-putt birdie.

Koepka was made to work for the victory

With Johnson about to drop a shot on the 11th, Koepka struck what looked to be the killer blow with a stunning approach to the 10th to set up a tap-in birdie and restore a six-stroke cushion, although he had to hole from six feet on the next to avoid a double bogey.

Another bogey on the 12th saw the lead trimmed to four shots again and Koepka was fortunate to get away with a wild drive on the 13th which finished on a trampled down patch of grass where the spectators had been walking.

However, he failed to find the fairway with his recovery and came up short of the green with his third shot before three-putting from long range.

Johnson made things interesting

A third straight bogey meant his lead was down to three and minutes later it was just two as Johnson holed from 11 feet for birdie on the 15th.

Koepka’s mind was scrambled by this point and his tee shot on the 14th flew fully 15 yards over the green as a combination of adrenaline and a possible drop in the wind struck at the most inopportune moment.

With a fourth bogey in a row Koepka’s lead was down to a single shot but he got the help he needed when Johnson was unable to save par from over the 16th green and another bogey on the 17th effectively ended his chances.

After finishing runner-up in the Masters last month, Johnson has now finished second in all four majors with his sole success coming in the 2016 US Open.

Koepka made it back-to-back championships

Speaking at the trophy presentation, Koepka said: “I’m just glad we didn’t have to play any more holes, that was a stressful round of golf.

“The wind was up, DJ (Johnson) played awesome and he put the pressure on. I’m glad to have this thing (the Wanamaker Trophy) back in my hands.

“It’s incredible. I don’t even know if I dreamed of this. This is cool. I am still in shock right now, this is awesome.”

The Masters 2019 tips: Super Computer predicts where Francesco Molinari, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and co will finish at Augusta

11 Apr

The 2019 Masters is upon us as golf’s greatest descend on Augusta National looking to get their hands on a legendary Green Jacket.

The first Major of the year is always a special event with the Georgia course providing the perfect backdrop to all the drama.

If McIlroy wins, it would complete a career Grand Slam for him

It’s one of the highlights of the sporting calendar and to mark the occasion, talkSPORT has fired up its famous Super Computer to predict who will make up the top ten come Sunday evening.

This year’s tournament is one of the most unpredictable in years with a host of star names in contention.

Here’s how our Super Computer sees the final leaderboard of The Masters.

10. Brooks Koepka

Koepka won two of the four Majors in 2018 but is yet to produce his best at Augusta. We have the 28-year-old from Jupiter, Florida making the top ten this year but only just.

9. Tiger Woods

The four-time Masters champion is a legend around the famous old course and is looking for glory again this year. A top ten for the golfing icon looks good but the stacked field could scupper his chances.

8. Jon Rahm

The 24-year-old Spaniard will be one of golf’s biggest stars for years to come and already has a top-four finish at the Masters on his CV. He could go close again this year but may have to wait for his first Major title.

7. Francesco Molinari

Few golfers have ever had a better year than Molinari did in 2018. Unfortunately for the Italian, Augusta just doesn’t seem to suit his game with his previous best being T19. While he could improve on that this year, a Green Jacket looks set to elude him.

Masters legend Tiger Woods has won the event four times

6. Justin Thomas

JT is another young man set for a glittering career but is also yet to show what he can do at the Masters. The Kentucky man will be a threat but a top five could just be too much.

5. Justin Rose

The English Rose somehow still has only one Major title to his name. A mixed start to this season could mean he’ll come up short again following his second place finish two years ago.

4. Dustin Johnson

One of the top ranked players in the world, DJ is another man with just one Major going into this week’s tournament. He’ll be eager to add to that tally in 2019 but the Masters looks set to just pass him by.

3. Jordan Spieth

The champion from 2015 will be right in the mix yet again this year but his poor form so far this season could mean he’ll have to wait for another Green Jacket.

Jordan Spieth will be looking to win his second Green Jacket, having won it in 2015

2. Rickie Fowler

Second last year and on a course that suits his game well, Fowler will yet again be near the top of the leaderboard. Still without a Major title, the 30-year-old may have to wait until later in the summer to claim his first.

1. Rory McIlroy

McIlroy has had to wait since 2014 to claim his career Grand Slam but he could be set to achieve that remarkable feat this week. The northern Irishman has a chequered past at Augusta but he could lay his old demons to rest with a stunning win in 2019.