Brooks Koepka won the PGA Championship for the third time, clinching his fifth major title on Sunday at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York.
A commanding final round showing saw the American finish on nine-under par, two shots ahead of compatriot Scottie Scheffler and Norway’s Viktor Hovland, who played his part in a pulsating final day duel.
The 33-year-old’s triumph sees him become the first golfer to win a major while playing on the LIV Golf Series. Australia’s Cameron Smith joined the Saudi-backed breakaway tour a month after his victory at The Open Championship in July 2022.
It marks a long-awaited return to the summit for Koepka, who had endured an injury-ridden fall from the top after winning back-to-back pairs of PGA Championship and US Open cups in an unprecedented stretch between 2017 and 2019.
Koepka fell narrowly short of winning The Masters last month, taking a two stroke lead into the last round before finishing runner-up to Spain’s Jon Rahm. However, at the second men’s major of the season, he navigated grueling conditions before leading from the front on the final day to lift the Wanamaker Trophy.
In doing so, he joins Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as only the third golfer to win the PGA Championship three or more times in the strokeplay era, and the 20th to win five or more men’s majors.
“This is incredible, this is wild,” Koepka said during his winner’s interview.
“I look back at where we were two years ago, everything that’s gone on. I’m just so happy right now, I’m kind of at a loss for words, but this is just the coolest thing.
“I’ll be honest I’m not even sure I dreamed as a kid that I was going to win this many. This is the coolest thing and I’m just happy to do it in front of these New York fans, I love you guys.”
Hovland battled valiantly in his bid to become the first Norwegian to win a men’s major, but saw his challenge derailed by a double bogey at the 16th hole. The 25-year-old has now finished inside the top seven at three successive majors.
World no. 2 Scheffler began the final round tied for fifth but climbed the leaderboard with a brilliant five-under 65, two better than Koepka and three better than Hovland.
There was a remarkable fairytale ending for the already fantasy-fueled story written at Oak Hill by Michael Block, the club pro who became one of the stars at the tournament with his stellar play.
The 46-year-old shot a sensational hole-in-one en route to finishing one-over par overall, enough for a share of 15th place and to stamp his ticket to next year’s 106th edition of the major at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.
“I’m living a dream,” an emotional Block said after his round.
“I’m making sure that I enjoy this moment. I’ve learned that after my 46 years of life, it’s not going to get better than this. There’s no way.”
Reigning champion Justin Thomas endured a disappointing defense of the title he won in dramatic fashion a year ago. A third PGA Championship title never looked on the cards for the American, who carded 12-over overall to finish tied-65th.
After a frost-delayed opening round was followed by two days of rain and wind, the sun finally broke over Oak Hill, setting the stage for low scores after much of the field had struggled.
Koepka, despite a slow start, had coped just fine in the miserable conditions. The American had roared back from a disappointing two-over 72 with back-to-back, round-best four-under 66’s to tee off for the final round with a one stroke lead over Canada’s Corey Conners and Hovland.
There was nothing slow about his Sunday start, as Koepka tapped home his third successive birdie at the fourth hole to rocket into a four stroke lead. It was a role reversal of last month’s Masters, when Jon Rahm tore away from the chasing Koepka with a flurry of early birdies.
Yet Hovland – luminescent in a psychedelic orange shirt – looked determined to prevent a procession, immediately responding with back-to-back birdies of his own to cut the lead to two.
His fightback was emboldened when Koepka sliced his tee drive into the water at the dreaded sixth hole, statistically the hardest hole of the tournament. After a lengthy discussion with the rules official, the American was afforded a drop next to the hazard.
A brilliant approach saw Koepka escape with a bogey, an outcome made easier to stomach when his Norwegian rival – having got into bunker trouble – could only par to fall short of tying the lead.
A pair of bogeys from the duo at the subsequent hole suggested the first signs of stress, nerves not helped by Scheffler, chasing his second major title, gathering pace up ahead.
Momentum continued to swing back and forth as the leading duo made the turn, Hovland wincing in agony as his birdie putt lipped out before Koepka mimicked the reaction when his effort to save par suffered the same fate a hole later.
It was a pulsating battle at the top, though for a few magical minutes all eyes and cameras were trained on the 15th hole, and Block’s ball nestled cosily in it. After a fairytale week at Oak Hill, the 46-year-old club pro found space to write another surreal chapter when his tee shot sailed 151 yards, without a bounce, straight into the cup.
The crowd, raucous in their support of the underdog all week, went into hysterics. A high-five and an embrace from playing partner McIlroy for a disbelieving Block, who then set off on his long walk to collect his ball, serenaded on all sides.
Back at the summit, the tussle between the leading duo continued, Hovland matching Koepka stride for stride to remain within a stroke with just three holes to play.
Then, at the 16th hole, catastrophe struck for the young Norwegian. In eerily identical scenes to Conners almost 24 hours prior, Hovland – stood in the very same patch of sand – slammed his bunker escape effort into the lip.
It was almost a shot-for-shot remake of the Canadian’s horror movie, and the outcome was the same. Hovland double bogeyed, Koepka birdied clinically, and the Norwegian now had a four stroke sized mountain to climb. Scheffler’s closing birdie to jump into a share of second rubbed further salt into wounds.
But the day belonged to Koepka who, after putting to within inches of the 18th hole, flashed a glowing grin on his short walk to tap home for par and the championship.