What’s the old saying – karma’s a bitch?
Brooks Koepka talked a good game at the 102nd PGA Championship on Saturday night. He didn’t quite go all Joe Namath and guarantee victory on Sunday, but Koepka said that his experience winning four majors, including the Wanamaker Trophy the last two years, and his comfort level on the back-nine Sunday at majors would be the difference at TPC Harding Park.
Trailing by two strokes heading into the final round, Koepka was the last guy you’d have expected to lay an egg, but he did just that. He shot a 4-over 74, 10 strokes more than champion Collin Morikawa, to tumble to a share of 29th place and beat only player in the field on Sunday.
“It’s my first bad round in a while in a major,” Koepka said in a post-round interview. “You know, I was just there to cheer Paul (Casey) on. That was it. Just try to help him get it in the house and see how well he could finish, because I had put myself out of it already.”
Koepka’s Sunday swoon began with a sloppy bogey at the second hole. But his round started spinning out of control after he pulled a 4-iron off the tee at the seventh hole into the rough.
“Every time I hit it in the rough today I got probably the worst lie I’ve had all week. You know, if you’re going to put it in the rough out here, it’s pretty tough,” he said.
Koepka made bogey and compounded his error with bogeys on Nos. 8 and 9, to shoot a birdie-less 4-over 39 on the front nine.
“Disappointing, to say the least. You know, you knew you had to be under par, at least one, to have a good chance on the back side,” he said.
Still, it was an impressive effort by Koepka to be in the trophy hunt for a third straight year at the PGA Championship, especially given his struggles this season and continued issues with his left knee. Tiger Woods, who knows from experience what it is like to seek a three-peat at the PGA and fall short, explained why only three players in the last 100 years have won the same major three years in a row.
“The hard part is the expectations going into the week, the number of distractions that you have to try and prepare for,” he said.
Koepka pushed Gary Woodland to the finish line in his quest to three-peat at the 2019 U.S. Open. This time, he put up a good fight for three rounds before a rare over-par effort in a major on Sunday.
“You know, hey, wasn’t meant to be,” Koepka said. “Three in a row, you’re not really supposed to do two in a row looking at history, but that’s all right. Got two more the rest of the season and we’ll figure it out from there.”