FARMINGDALE, N.Y.-Bethpage hasn’t seen a beatdown like this since the British drove Washington into Manhattan.

That’s not how this rodeo is supposed to work. It’s the Black’s job to lay the hurtin’; there’s a “Warning” sign and everything. Only Brooks Koepka decided to take that sign and snap it in half. The reigning PGA and U.S. Open champ fired a first-round 63 at the PGA Championship, and we do mean “fired.” Koepka was so hot the joint would have burned down had it not been saturated by weeks of rain.

“That was one of the best rounds I’ve played probably as a professional,” Koepka said. “This golf course is brutal.”

That might seem like it was said in jest, similar to when an opposing football coach remarks, “You have to give that team a lot of credit,” after winning by five touchdowns. Yet Koepka’s analysis rings true: Only Tommy Fleetwood’s 67 came close to matching Koepka in the morning round. Koepka was the only player to go bogey free, and his seven-under score with nearly 10 strokes better than the field’s 72.76 morning average.

Damnedest thing, it could have been lower. Koepka’s only blemish of the day came at the signature par-5 fourth. It’s the lone respite at the Long Island venue, a hole that (as of writing) surrendered 46 red figures and just six bogeys or worse. But Koepka sailed his drive into fescue and chunked a chip around the green. These mistakes lead to..a par.

The horror.

“And then 13 I can get there, too, I just hit it in the bunker,” Koepka reminded on Bethpage’s other par 5. “And then the second hole today, my 11th hole, I missed about a five-footer. That would have been nice to shoot 60. I guess that would have been pretty good.”

But the shock isn’t that Koepka turned Bethpage into Bellerive. It’s that he’s made such masterpieces a habit.

There have been pundits who claim Koepka is a good player on a great run. Please. Dustin Johnson winning threes straight tour events? That’s a streak. Justin Thomas capturing six wins in a calendar year? A heater. Koepka’s major performance over the last five seasons? That’s not a run, that’s routine.

Yes, five seasons. Koepka’s three titles and a runner-up in his last seven tries have vaulted him to the sport’s upper echelon, yet somehow fails to encapsulate his success. Starting with a T-10 at the 2015 Open Championship, Koepka has 11 top-15 finishes in his past 13 major starts. Throw in a T-4 at the 2014 U.S. Open, he boasts nine top 10s. Anyone thinking Koepka is riding a wave is ignorant or brazenly obtuse.

That production is a notch below the primes of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods . . . but right in line with the primes of Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson, who boast 15 majors between them. Whatever blasphemy that may convey, the record books back it up. In fact, should Koepka win the Wanamaker, he’d join Tiger, Jack, and Ben Hogan as the only modern-era …read more

Source:: Daily times


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PGA Championship 2019: Putting Brooks Koepka’s Bethpage 63, and major dominance, in perspective – Golf Digest

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