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Brooks Koepka Holds Off Tiger Woods to Win P.G.A. Championship

TOWN AND COUNTRY, Mo. — Brooks Koepka is likely one of the longest hitters in golfing, however maximum weeks he’s a distracted driving force, his focal point fading out and in like a radio sign on a tree-lined mountain highway. However 4 weeks a yr, all over the majors, Koepka has no downside locking in his focus.

“I will be able to truly music in within the majors, and I do not know why,” stated Koepka, who has gained 3 of them and just one common PGA Excursion match. “They truly get my consideration.”

On Sunday on the 100th P.G.A. Championship, Koepka, 28, may simply have misplaced his focal point. He was once being chased by way of the 2 avid gamers he had idolized rising up: Tiger Woods, 42, and Adam Scott, the 38-year-old Australian.

A troublesome-charging Woods had the full-throated enhance of the enthusiasts filled like packing peanuts into the 200-acre parcel of belongings this is Bellerive Nation Membership. Scott, whose swing Koepka liked as a kid, joined him within the last twosome, dueling Koepka down the stretch as though reminiscent of the P.G.A. Championship’s previous incarnation as a match-play match.

“Surreal, that’s all I will be able to say,” stated Koepka. He by no means wavered, last with a four-under-par 66 to win his moment main of the yr and his 3rd in 14 months. The 2-time reigning United States Open champion, Koepka completed two strokes forward of Woods, whose 64 equaled the low spherical of the day, and 3 forward of Scott, who shot a 67.

Koepka’s 72-hole general of 16-under 264 bettered by way of one stroke the match’s absolute scoring document, set in 2001 by way of David Toms.

Koepka can have entertained a couple of doubts, however he by no means were given sidetracked. How high-quality was once Koepka’s focal point? At the first, 8th and 12th holes, he stepped up and sank birdie putts as thunderous roars shook the direction after electric birdie moves by way of Woods, the 14-time main winner taking part in one gap forward of Koepka and Scott.

Woods didn’t hit a fairway at the entrance 9 but controlled to make the flip in 3 beneath, with 4 birdies and a bogey. He birdied 4 of his final seven holes, together with the 18th on a superbly struck 19-foot putt, to seal his lowest completing spherical in 80 main begins.

“I needed to move get it and I attempted,” stated Woods, who had a big contingent of media participants and outstanding other folks following him throughout the ropes, together with Michael Phelps, the 28-time Olympic medalist, and Gov. Mike Parson of Missouri.

“When he began making that run, it introduced me again to when I used to be a child and when I used to be gazing him and also you heard the ones roars,” Koepka stated, including, “Being part of that as a fan is cool, or even whilst you’re taking part in it’s nonetheless lovely neat. It roughly pushes you to step up your sport. I imply, it’s a must to as a result of you understand he’s proper there for those who fall.”

This was once Woods’s easiest appearing in a big since his runner-up end to Y.E. Yang on the 2009 P.G.A. Championship — despite the fact that he did hang the final-day lead in short finally month’s British Open on his approach to a tie for 6th.

Woods’s second-place end Sunday got here in his 14th reliable get started since January, when he returned from a last-resort lumbar fusion surgical operation. The operation, in April 2017, was once his fourth lower-back process since April 2014, and as he recovered final summer season, his aggressive long term was once unsure.

At the moment a yr in the past, Woods had now not been cleared to take complete swings. His primary purpose then was once to not resume his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’s 18 main championships or Sam Snead’s 82 PGA Excursion victories, however to are living a pain-free existence.

Requested on Sunday if he was once stunned to have contended in two majors this yr, Woods, who used to mention that he entered each and every main anticipating to win, spoke back: “I didn’t even know if I used to be going to play golfing once more. So, yeah.”

Given the whole lot that he has been thru, Woods’s 5 top-six finishes this yr have left him feeling blessed, he stated.

“I’m simply glad to be again taking part in once more, competing, grinding available in the market and dealing my manner up the chief board,” Woods stated final week.

After arriving on the match with muted expectancies, Woods left with out the Wanamaker Trophy, the heftiest trophy in golfing at 27 kilos, however with a weighted query replied: Sure, he’s formally again.

“I didn’t know when I used to be going to start out this yr and what number of tournaments I used to be going to play, how neatly I used to be going to play,” Woods stated. “I didn’t know what swing I used to be going to make use of, both.”

“So I needed to roughly determine this out alone,” he added, “and it’s been truly laborious. It’s so much tougher than other folks assume. And I’m simply very happy at what I’ve performed up to now.”

Koepka, the primary participant since Woods in 2000 to win america Open and the P.G.A. Championship in the similar yr, had his personal bodily setback to conquer. On the finish of final yr, he sustained a wrist damage that saved him out of a number of tournaments, together with the Masters in April.

“To assume the place I used to be 4 months in the past, to come back out right here and play in addition to I did, it’s truly implausible,” Koepka stated, including, “I will be able to’t even put into phrases how neatly I performed, and I’m so excited for myself and my caddie and my crew.”

With drives that averaged greater than 324 yards on Sunday, Koepka overpowered the direction in some way that left Woods slack-jawed. After all, Woods has most effective himself guilty for golfing’s millennial muscle males, led by way of Koepka. They have got taken the health routine that Woods delivered to golfing and supersized it; Koepka spent 90 mins at a neighborhood health club on Saturday and on Sunday, entering into weight and aerobic exercises prior to hitting the direction.

“I performed with him in a convention spherical and he was once actually hitting it 340, 350 within the air,” Woods stated. “And when a man’s doing that and hitting it instantly and as excellent a putter as he’s, it’s difficult to overcome.”

After his last birdie, Woods took a antique proper uppercut into the air, and his caddie, Joe LaCava, interpreted that as an indication that the rejuvenated Woods felt as much as the problem.

“He’s lovely pumped for himself,” stated LaCava, who was once on Woods’s bag all over his five-victory season in 2013. “He’s getting there,” LaCava added. “He’s shut.”

J.J. Bailey contributed to this document.

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