The American streams koepka won his third PGA Championship title on Sunday and gave the Saudi Arabian-funded LIV Golf circuit its first Grand Slam win. The American finished with 271 accumulated strokes (nine under par) and a lead of two on his companions, the Norwegian Viktor Hovland and the American Scottie Scheffler, who sharing the second place snatched the world number one from the Spaniard Jon Rahm.
Koepka, who has a total of five Major trophies, was one of the leading figures to leave the PGA last year to join LIV Golf and the first to win a Grand Slam as a member of the criticized Saudi circuit. I’m not even sure I dreamed of winning so many as a kid,” Koepka congratulated.
The 33-year-old American thus returned to the top after a four-year Grand Slam trophy drought and a series of injuries: “I look back and see where we were two years ago. I’m so happy right now. I don’t have words. But that’s the coolest thing,” he said.
After two fierce days of rain and wind, the sun returned to the fearsome Oak Hill field on Sunday to light up the fight for the second major of the year. Koepka had started the final day as the sole leader with a one stroke lead over Hovland and Canada’s Corey Conners.
The burly Florida golfer got off to a terrific start with three birdies on the first four holes, but then tripped over back-to-back bogeys and again found himself just one shot behind Hovland to start the second half.
Unlike the last Augusta Masters, in April, where he lost in the final against the Spanish Jon Rahm, this time Koepka kept his cool and imposed his experience against Hovland, one of the most promising golfers but who hasn’t yet won a big trophy The Norwegian came out of contention for the title with a double bogey on the 16th hole, which allowed world number two Scheffler to join him in second position.
The most feared scenario for the PGA materialized this Sunday in Rochester with the triumph of one of the players who “defected” to join LIV Golf, the new circuit launched in 2022. The PGA has banned all its events players recruited by LIV Golf, which has won over some of the biggest names in the sport with guaranteed contracts, the largest prize pools in golf history, and shorter tournaments, featuring 54 holes instead of the traditional 72.
This format had raised suspicions that its members might suffer from a lack of competitiveness when it came to competing in Grand Slams.
Critics of LIV Golf see this competition as an attempt by the Riyadh government to whitewash its regime’s international image and cover up allegations of human rights abuses through sport. Therefore, with PGA and LIV Golf locked in a legal battle, Grand Slam tournaments are their only field of sporting competition.
At the Masters in Augusta there were already three representatives of the Saudi circuit in the top 6. Koepka, second on that occasion behind Rahm, redeemed himself on Sunday in Oak Hill by winning the third PGA Championship of his career, after the triumphs of 2018 and 2019.
Only Tiger Woods, the great absentee of this edition due to a new operation on his right leg, Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen surpass Koepka in the ranking of winners of this event, whose last non-American winner was the Australian Jason Day in 2015.
Before the nominees appeared on the course, world golf number one Jon Rahm finished his round with another disappointing round of 71 (+1) shots for a final cumulative of 287 (+7), which placed him in the position fifty.
Rahm narrowly salvaged Friday’s cut and never had a chance to challenge for his first Spanish PGA Championship win. a good ending. But not here,” Rahm complained.
In addition to the fight for the title, this PGA Championship will also be remembered for the extraordinary participation of the American Michael Block, who teaches golf in a public club in Mission Viejo (California). Block, 46, entered the tournament on invitation and as the days went by, he became a huge sensation in Oak Hill, where he easily made the cut and reached the top-10. He finished 15th this Sunday, well ahead of number one Rahm, and earned an invitation to return to the tournament in 2024.
The professor finished his lesson this Sunday with a spectacular ‘ace’ (hole in one) with a shot of 138 meters on the 15th hole. world one Rory McIlroy, his round partner, to the jubilation of the fans at Oak Hill.
For his part, the Chilean Mito Pereira, the only Latin American player competing this weekend, shone on Sunday with a final card of 67 strokes (-3) which took him to 18th place with 282 accumulated (+2).
Jason Root is the go-to source for sports coverage at News Rebeat. With a passion for athletics and an in-depth knowledge of the latest sports trends, Jason provides comprehensive and engaging analysis of the world of sports.