Brooks Koepka dispelled the disappointment of his runner-up finish at the Masters and the demons he laid bare on the PGA Tour Netflix show to win his third Wanamaker Trophy
When Brooks Koepka missed the cut at an Asian Tour event in February, many golf fans didn’t recognise this performance of a former World No.1 and four-time major champion.
That miserable week in Oman came in close proximity to the release of Full Swing, the Netflix documentary where Koepka emotionally exposed himself more than ever.
He appeared devoid of confidence and belief in a programme that showed him in turmoil after missing the cut at the 2022 Masters.
Since his most recent major win in 2019 at Bethpage, he’d been riddled with injuries which had prevented him from reaching the heights that made him one of the best players of the last two decades.
The Koepka we were treated to at the 2023 PGA Championship, a man who has just won a fifth major, is one many doubted we’d see again.
Despite a small hiccup on the front nine reducing his three-shot lead over Viktor Hovland to just one, the American kept his young Norwegian opponent at arm’s length at Oak Hill.
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The moment Hovland saw his chances vanish came on the par 4 16th hole when he embedded his fairway bunker shot underneath the lip, just as Corey Conners had done a day earlier.
With Viktor’s head in his hands, Koepka undoubtedly looked on and breathed a strong sigh of relief.
He carded a 67 to eventually win by two shots from Hovland and a sneaky World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler.
“This is incredible. This is wild. I look back on where we were two years ago – everything that’s gone on – I’m just so happy right now,” Koepka told CBS afterward. “This is just the coolest thing.
“To be with that group of names (to win five majors) is absolutely incredible, something I’m not sure I even dreamed of as a kid to win this many.
“I’m just happy to do it in front of these New York fans – New York has been a second home for me and Oak Hill, after the beating it took with the rain. It was in phenomenal shape.
“I felt in control all day. To be honest with you, the par 5 (4th), making the birdie there, I felt like that was a good putt,” he added later.
“The other ones were three, four feet. But I think making that seven-footer just helped build some momentum early.
“This is probably the sweetest one of them all because of all the hard work that went into this one, this one is definitely special. This one is probably it for me.”
Only Walter Hagen, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods have won more Wanamaker trophies than Koepka’s three.
He is the first player born after 1975 to win five major championships and, quite incredibly, he is also the first-ever player to win three majors at three different venues in the same state.
Before the second major of the year got under way, Koepka said he wanted to make the decision hard for US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson hard in terms of choosing a LIV Golf player in his team for Italy.
It could now be out of Johnson’s hands.
With his runner-up finish at the Masters, a fifth major win here, and two more championships still to come, Koepka could earn enough points for an automatic pick in the top six and not need a Captain’s pick.
He’s played in the last three Ryder Cups and he has virtually confirmed his fourth appearance for Team USA, who are looking to win in Europe for the first time since 1993 in September.
The elephant in the room, of course, is the LIV factor. Since the emergence of the Saudi-financed league in June 2022, Koepka is the first to win a major since joining Greg Norman’s roster.
And even though the 33-year-old will climb high in the world rankings for his dominant display in New York, this victory will no doubt increase the clamour for LIV’s OWGR application to be accepted.
It is safe to assume Koepka is back. The real Koepka that can take down any force on his day.
His next stop is Trump National Golf Club Washington DC for LIV’s next event, with another career hat-trick on the cards at the US Open next month.
Would you bet against him?
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