SportsPulse: Brooks Koepka was dominant in the final round to win the PGA Championship, while Tiger Wood's continuing revival electrified the crowd.
USA TODAY sports
ST. LOUIS – Brooks Koepka used to be Tiger Woods.
At least in the majors.
And Tiger is not far from being the old tiger again.
Koepka won his third major title in his last six starts in the game's four biggest tournaments, a tiger-esque circuit that includes victory in the last two games of the US Open and now the 100th PGA Championship.
Just as Tiger was in its heyday, Koepka is a physically imposing, highly confident, ultra-cool presence that breaks down the hardest tracks in the Gulf and on the most-played fields of the game.
At Bellerive Country Club on a sultry Sunday, Koepka finished his course and held one challenger after another with a finals 4 under par 66, which put him at 16 under and two clear ahead of Woods, three clear Adam Scott and four clear of Stewart Cink and Jon cream.
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Koepka's heart did not miss a beat – it rarely does – despite the onslaught of challengers chasing him and the noise that is Woods, who earned his best score in a major for years, and squeezed the socks off to Bellerive ,
"The masses here, they let you know what's going on," said Koepka. "At the beginning of the nineties, I could hear all the roaring, and when Tiger started his little run and Scotty made his run, it got loud."
Koepka never lost the lead he took on Sunday and delivered two close-range birdies on the 15th and 16th holes to keep the field in check, giving him the right to put his enormous arms around the Wanamaker Trophy , It was a fitting conclusion to a week in which he overcame the soft track with his driver, wedge and putter.
With rounds of 69-63-66-66, Koepka is without a doubt elite and he joined an intoxicating company as he, Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen are the only players to win the US Open and the PGA Championship in same way win year. Koepka also moved to # 2 in the world, leaving only his good friend Dustin Johnson behind.
As for Woods, do you want to doubt him now?
Woods had to silence his toughest critics, even the tiger-hater. While his claws did not mate a fifth Wanamaker Trophy and he did not win his 15th Major and the first since winning the US Open in 2008, Woods showed he's once again an outstanding force just 16 months after his Ave Maria spinal fusion surgery.
Woods is now 26th in the world after making his comeback in 1,199, and the final round at the Bellerive Country Club on Sunday was a punctuation mark of a season of change for Woods – until now – tinkering with gear changes to his momentum and a new putter in the bag.
On Sunday, Woods was an act that took place in two parts, the first on the first nine, where everything except his scorecard was a mess. His pace was off, his momentum was too fast from above due to the impact, and he had not hit a regular fairway.
In his recent injury-plagued years that would have meant the downfall. But now, after a season of progress, a season in which he improved from one tournament to the next, gaining confidence, Woods showed himself and his colleagues that he can be a force if he does not have his "A" game , Woods became Houdini on the front and made four birdies with some of the most outrageous scrambling you've ever seen.
He made the turn just a slap out of the lead and then unleashed a vintage form. He added four more birdies, left a birdie putt on his lip, and had a par putt lip. He finished with a 64 – his best final round in a major – and his 266 overall was the lowest he has ever scored in a major.
In the end, however, Woods had an answer to most of what he had this week with the exception of Koepka.
"I played hard," Woods said. "I walked a bit.
"It's hard to beat when the guy hits it in the middle of the middle, what he did at Shinnecock (in the open), just bombarded it, and then he does the same thing here … And if a guy does that and it just hits, and as good a putter as he is, it's hard to beat. "
But when Woods left the Gateway City, he was hopeful for what was on the horizon. He was barely able to run, not knowing if he would ever play again, keeping his expectations in check and now expecting him to win.
Follow Steve DiMeglio on Twitter @Steve_DiMeglio,