PGA Championship analysis: What to know about Brooks Koepka’s victory

PGA Championship analysis: What to know about Brooks Koepka’s victory

After a waterlogged Saturday at Oak Hill, Sunday brought clear skies and easier scoring opportunities for the chasing pack. But the 54-hole leader and best major championship player of his generation was relentless, birding three times on his first four holes. Brooks Koepka never looked back and early Sunday night lifted the Wanamaker Trophy for the third time.

Here are the best numbers and ratings you need to know from the final round of the 105th PGA Championship.

1. Koepka’s place in the golf history books takes root more deeply with each passing major championship season. Koepka is only the third player to win three or more PGA Championships in the stroke play era, joining Jack Nicklaus (five wins) and Tiger Woods (four). He is the third player to win the PGA Championship three times in six years, joining Nicklaus and Walter Hagen. He is also one of only five players in history to have won the PGA three or more times and the US Open more than once. The others are Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Nicklaus and Woods.

Only seven players since 1950 have won at least five major men’s tournaments before the age of 34: Woods, Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Koepka. Koepka (born 1990) is the first player born after 1975 to win five major men’s championships. For more than 22 years, Woods was the youngest man on Earth with five or more major wins – now that title goes to Koepka. He is only the 20th player in men’s professional golf history to win five major tournaments.

2. Koepka needed every club in his bag to beat the ground at Oak Hill. Luckily for him, he did just about everything brilliantly. At the start, Koepka ranked fifth in yardage and sixth in hits. He landed in the top five in shots gained per round for the week, collecting nearly six full shots from the field in that department. He scrambled to the fourth-best clip on the court (68%) and had fewer putts per round than any other player (26.0).

Koepka played the back nine at Oak Hill in nine under for the week, two strokes better than anyone. It all added up to 66, 66 and 67 scores in the last three rounds. In the history of men’s major championship golf, there have only been four wins where a player has shot 67 or less in rounds 2, 3 and 4. Koepka has two — this week and at the 2018 PGA. The other two belong to Nick Price (1994 Open) and Jason Day (2015 PGA).

3. Koepka finished tied for second last month at the Masters, just as he did in 2019 before winning the PGA at Bethpage Black the following month. Since the first Masters in 1934, there have only been five instances of a player finishing second in the first major of the season and then winning the second. Koepka has two – the 2019 and 2023 PGAs – the other three are in 1938 (Ralph Guldahl), 1965 (Player) and 2008 (Woods).

There have been 24 men’s majors since the 2017 US Open. Koepka has finished first or second in nine of them – almost 40% of the time. To put that into perspective, since 1990 only three players have 10 or more top-two finishes in the majors: Tiger Woods (22), Phil Mickelson (18) and Ernie Els (10).

With three major victories in New York, Koepka is the only player in men’s golf history to win three majors at three different courses in the same state. Before Koepka, no one had even won two majors in New York since Gene Sarazen at the 1932 PGA. Koepka is now a ridiculous 79 under in majors since the start of 2017 – 27 shots better than any other player of this period (Scottie Scheffler, -52).

4. Koepka may have chased with the Wanamaker Trophy, but the 105th PGA really had two different champions. Michael Block has put an incredible exclamation mark on the most memorable professional club performance in decades. At 15, Block made the only hole-in-one of the week, plunging it 151 yards. Block is the first club professional to ace the PGA Championship since George Bowman in 1996. During the celebration, playing partner Rory McIlroy hugged the real Roy McAvoy.

When he turned 18, Block needed a par to secure a top-15 berth and automatic qualification for next year’s PGA Championship at Valhalla. After pulverizing his left approach into the gallery, Block hit an incredible greenside recovery shot from just inside eight feet. He drilled the par putt, completing one of the most inexplicable performances in the sport this year.

5. This week, Block had the best 36 and 54 hole positions by a club pro at the PGA Championship since 1988. His tie for 15th is the best result by a club pro since Lonnie Nielsen tied for 11th. rank at Inverness in 1986. Block was sixth in the field for the week in strokes gained, seven places ahead of Koepka. He beat world number one Jon Rahm by six and defending champion Justin Thomas by 11.

As the week progressed, it emerged that Block typically charges $125 per lesson at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club, a public course in California. If that’s still his going rate — and it shouldn’t be after this week — it would take 2,307 lessons to match what Block is taking home in official earnings this week: $288,333. However, Block is unlikely to give any lessons next week. After his tour, he received a sponsor exemption for next week’s PGA Tour stop at Colonial.

Michael Block’s performance this week gives him an automatic entry into the 2024 PGA Championship. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

6. After shooting a 40 on the front nine on Saturday, Scottie Scheffler knew he had to go very low to have a chance of victory. He put in a valiant effort – his last 65 was his all-time lowest score in a major tournament – ​​but it just wasn’t enough to catch Koepka. It is Scheffler’s second-place finish in the last four major competitions played – he also finished T-2 at Brookline last summer. The finish puts Scheffler back at number one in the Official World Golf Rankings, an increasingly less important metric in the new era of the split circuit.

Scheffler entered the week leading the PGA Tour in strokes gained from tee to green. He led the pack again in that stat this week, cementing his status as the best ball forward in the world currently in the men’s game. Scheffler will be on the court next week at Colonial, looking to avenge last season’s playoff loss to Sam Burns.

7. A day after Corey Conners hit his approach straight into the lip of a fairway bunker on the 16th hole, Viktor Hovland did the exact same thing, ending his chance for victory. Overall, however, Hovland had another terrific week: he is the only player to have finished seventh or better in each of the last three majors played. In his first nine major championships as a professional, Hovland was a combined 20-over-par without placing in the top-10. He is now under 27 in his last three games.

Hovland led the field this week in both earned approach shots and average closeness to the hole, a cruel statistical twist given that the hardest hit of his final round came from a fairway bunker.

8. McIlroy carded a 1-under 69 for the third straight day to finish tied for seventh place. It’s the 18th top 10 finish in a major for McIlroy since his last win, most of any player in this span.

McIlroy had strong numbers across the board, but was never able to step up a gear for an extended period. He only managed two consecutive birdies during the week, once on Thursday and once on Saturday. McIlroy had 16 birdies for the week – only five players had more – but followed them with a bogey four times. He ranked fourth in the field in strokes gained, but when he missed the green he only went up and down 50% of the time (which was still better than the 46% course average).

Next month’s US Open will be the 34th major tournament played since McIlroy’s last win.

9. Bryson DeChambeau finished tied for fourth, his second top 10 in the last three majors (T-8 at the Open last summer). Bryson’s approach play wasn’t as clean on Sunday as it was in the first three rounds — he ranked 62nd out of 76 players on the field at average close to the hole. He proved this week that even with a leaner physique, his driver is still an incredible weapon, leading the PGA Championship in hits gained off the tee.

A pair of relative long shots rocketed up the standings on Sunday to finish tied for fourth with DeChambeau. Cam Davis and Kurt Kitayama fired 65 rounds on Sunday, each giving their career-best result at a major tournament. While Kitayama was a certainty to advance to the US Open on Monday thanks to his world ranking, Davis needed a big week to meet the same fate. The Aussie’s tie for fourth took him from 68th to 49th in the world, putting him in the top 60 before qualifying closed on Monday.

ten. The Los Angeles Country Club is hosting next month’s US Open, the first time the Los Angeles area has hosted the championship in 75 years. Defending Masters champion Rahm will no doubt be one of the favorites, having won half of his 10 PGA Tour titles so far in California. Local favorite Max Homa will be another popular name – Homa broke a course record 61 at Los Angeles CC when the 2013 Pac-12 Championships were played there. Koepka’s win ended a modern-era record streak of seven straight male winners in his twenties.

The US Open starts in 25 days.

(Top photo: Warren Little/Getty Images)

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