US PGA Championship

The Punter's De-Brief: Brooks bounces back to bag his fifth major

Golfer Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka after his third success at the US PGA Championship

Brooks Koepka has won his third US PGA Championship and his fifth major and Steve's back to reflect on his impressive victory at Oak Hill here...

After his second place at Augusta in April, Brooks Koepka began the week at Oak Hill with high hopes of adding to his major tally but just as he'd done when he won his second and third majors, at the US Open and US PGA Championship in 2018, he began the 105th US PGA Championship slowly.

Koepka's two-over 72 opening round saw him sitting tied for 38th and fully six shots behind fellow LIV golfer, Bryson DeChambeau, but the pre-event 28.027/1 chance had been here before and he wasn't about to panic.

He'd sat tied for 46th and six back when he defended his US Open title five years ago and he'd sat 33rd and five off the lead when he won his first US PGA Championship two months later so when he shot back-to-back 66s to hit the front at Oak Hill, none of us should have been surprised.

Koepka, who had been matched at high of 90.089/1, began the final round trading at around 6/4 and after birdies at two, three and four, the result never really looked in doubt.

Koepka made back-to-back bogeys at six and seven but reasserted his dominance after the turn and he was the only man to trade at odds-on.

Title hopes dashed when Hovland copies Conners

Scottie Scheffler, who had led at halfway, was matched at a low of 2.1211/10, Corey Conners hit a low of 3.39/4 in round three before he double-bogeyed the 16th when he his ball got embedded in the face of a fairway bunker and 42.041/1 chance, Viktor Hovland, was matched at a low of 2.56/4 before he hit a carbon copy of Conners' shot on Sunday.

It was impossible not to feel some sympathy for the Norwegian. He'd birdied 13 and 14 to keep tabs on Koepka and this was far and away his best performance under the gun at a major.

Yet again the top two in the world rankings, Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm, are vying for favouritism at next months US Open but after contending in three majors in-a-row, Hovland is now a 25/1 chance on the Betfair Exchange.

Block aces on Sunday and qualifies for next year

The fairy-tale story of the week was undoubtedly club pro, Michael Block, finishing tied for 15th. That was the best finish in the championship by a club pro since 1986 and he was the first club pro to make an ace in the championship since 1996.

His high finish guarantees him a spot in the event next year and he's also been given an invite for this week's event - the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Is LIV the Tour to play for perfect major prep?

Given how vociferously Rory McIlroy has opposed the new LIV Golf Tour, it was quite surprising to hear him telling Brooks that he was "happy for you" after the event and I'm finding all the post PGA Championship chatter a bit mystifying.

It seems some can defect to the dark side with the minimum of complaint and others are perceived to be verging on evil for doing so but whatever anyone's opinions of the breakaway Tour are, it's undeniable that it's beginning to look like a smart move for some.

Playing a limited number of events over 54 holes is clearly suiting Brooks and it may well suit many others too.

It looks like Koepka may now play in the Ryder Cup now too, while the DP World Tour have made it quite clear that no LIV players will represent Europe. It's all rather depressing and extremely messy but it's fascinating to see how it all develops.

This is a huge fillip for the LIV Tour and it must be a tempting place to play for any top-class players that only really care about major championships.

The move to LIV has coincided with a happy time away from the course for Brooks. He's injury-free for the first time in ages and he and his partner are expected their first child - a son - so he's another player that may have been inspired by the 'Nappy Factor'.

Koepka's the sixth man in history to win three US PGA Championships. Only Walter Hagen (5), Jack Nicklaus (5), and Tiger Woods (4), have won more Championships than Brooks and along with Nicklaus and Woods, he's just the third man to win it thrice in the stroke play era.

We're back to run of the mill fare this week but both events are decent. We've got the Charles Schwab Challenge on the PGA Tour, which I've previewed here, and the KLM Open on the DP World Tour, which I've previewed here.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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