Brooks Koepka sets new major target after fourth title

Paul Casey

Paul Casey

When the NY fans chanted his opponent's name on the 14th hole, Brooks Koepka became Brooks Koepka again.

Koepka's lead shrunk to one stroke on hard-charging Dustin Johnson before steadying himself for what became a 4-over-par 74 final round at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y. Or even the wayward iron shot in 2011 at Royal St. George's that led to a runner-up finish at The Open.

Rowdier elements of the already raucous NY crowd chanted "DJ, DJ" at Koepka as they sensed late sport in the bearpit of Bethpage Black.

"That one kind of took - you know, I knew I needed to birdie one of the last two when I did that". You're going to rattle off four in a row and it looks like you're going to lose it; I've been to sporting events in NY.

"Man, it's just rough". Koepka has always used every perceived slight as motivation, and it was no different on Sunday.

"The putt on 16 gave me a little bit more confidence coming down the stretch", he said.

"I've got Colonial next week, which is going to feel like a pitch-and-putt by comparison, then the Canadian Open. Hit the ball really well".

Koepka made the turn on 12-under, answering an opening bogey with a birdie at the par-5 fourth, while Johnson made birdies at the fourth, sixth and nine holes to reach 8-under, shrinking Koepka's lead to its lowest since Friday afternoon.

"I thought it was pretty weird how they were telling Brooks to choke", Varner said about the 14th hole.

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Last year's U.S. Open saw him get some bad luck, as Shinnecock Hills became nearly unplayable in the late afternoon, his second-round lead vanishing with a score of 77.

"It's just hopeless and it's not going to win many tournaments", he said of his final round.

"Phenomenal", Koepka said about his four majors in his last eight starts. The burly 29-year-old sealed the deal with a handsome par save on 18 from the fescue left of the fairway.

Koepka took over the No. 1 spot from Johnson, who has mentored the younger golfer to a degree and has now seen him win four major championships since Koepka won his first. It's very satisfying this one.

The 490-yard, par-4 16th proved to be the difference.

We have seen some strong, long drivers play in Australia over the years. If the former world No.1's epic 2000-2001 run, when he held all four titles at the same time, is still the benchmark of supremacy, Koepka's current tear suggests no one would be surprised were he to get close. It's just a hard golf course. It was loud and obnoxious and probably inappropriate, but the dirty little secret of this 101st edition of the PGA Championship is that it was exactly what we were all thinking at the time. Following yesterday's win at Bethpage Black, Brooks Koepka is no bigger than 7/1 to emulate Anderson. The public loves comebacks, but it also has a thing for narrow escapes, and this was one for the ages, on a golf course that had turned so mean in the wind.

The record books will show that all bar seven men shot over-par for the week and that the world's two best players finished first and second. I'll remember that we can (and will) say many things about him as we enter the final two majors of the year and his first two opportunities to enter a mega-exclusive five-major group. "I hit a lot of good shots", Cantlay said.

Johnson said after his round he's already begun to get a flood of texts, mostly saying, "Keep your head up". In these tough conditions, tough wind, even the putts that I missed looked like they were going in. The fans were shouting various forms of encouragement, one loud voice with an unmistakable NY feel to it could be heard above everyone else.

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