Brooks Koepka’s fourth major title in 23 months was anything but a breeze, even with a seven-stroke lead to start the final round.
The 29-year-old Koepka and the rest of the field battled windy conditions, but his 4-over-par 74 was good enough to hold off good buddy Dustin Johnson by two strokes in the 101st PGA Championship on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park www.bethpagegolfcourse.com in Farmingdale, N.Y.
“I’m just glad there are no more holes to play,” said Koepka, who successfully defended the PGA title he won last year at Bellerive in St. Louis. “It was a stressful round of golf with the wind up, and DJ was awesome.
“I heard all the ‘DJ’ chants and it made me have play some solid golf on the last few holes to win. I’m still in a state of shock. I’m not sure exactly what I’m feeling right now, but it’s incredible.”
Koepka, who will take the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings from Johnson this week, was in total control until he made four straight bogeys through No. 14 and DJ pulled to within one stroke with an 11-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole.
However, Johnson made bogeys on the next two holes and Koepka held on with three pars and another bogey down the stretch for a 72-hole total of 8-under 272.
“The golf course played extremely difficult today and I thought I played extremely well,” said Johnson, the 2016 U.S. Open champion who has now finished second in all four of the majors. “I needed to make one more birdie to put a little more pressure on Brooks.
“I’m very pleased with the way I played today under these conditions and gave myself a chance.”
Koepka, who also has won the last two U.S. Opens, joined Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only golfers to in four majors in a span of under two years.
Jordan Spieth, who needs a PGA title to complete the Career Grand Slam, carded a 71 to finish six shots back in tie for third with Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos, who also shot 71, and Matt Wallace of England, who closed with a 72.
Luke List was seven behind in solo sixth after a 74, followed one more down by Sung Kang of South Korea, who had a 72.
Fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, a two-time PGA champion, totaled 69 to wind up nine strokes back in a tie for eighth with Gary Woodland (68), Matt Kuchar (69), Shane Lowry (69) of Ireland, Erik van Rooyen (73) of South Africa and Adam Scott (74) of Australia.
Ninth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State tied for 16th after a 76, second-ranked Justin Rose of England totaled 75 to tie for 29th, 10th-ranked Rickie Fowler of Murrieta struggled to a 77 and tied for 36th, seventh-ranked Francesco Molinari of Italy tied for 48th following a 75, and 2005 PGA champion Phil Mickelson carded a second straight 76 to tie for 71st.
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