PGA Championship Won By Under-the-Radar Superstar
Tiger Woods. Rory McIlroy. Jordan Spieth. Rickie Fowler. Phil Mickelson.
These are the household names of the PGA Tour these days. Even casual golf fans are aware of all of these golfers, and when one of them wins, it makes headlines (when Tiger wins, it makes shockwaves!)
But there is another golfer whose celebrity does not match up with his talent: Brooks Koepka. The 29-year-old native of West Palm Beach, Florida won the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black Course over the weekend, and with the win became the world’s number one ranked golfer.
And yet, not many have heard of Koepka, at least not the more casual fans of the sport. But he should be: he has won back-to-back PGA Championships and back-to-back U.S. Opens. It was Koepka who held off Tiger’s brilliant run at the 2018 PGA Championship in St. Louis, and it was Koepka who held off a surging Dustin Johnson, despite floundering himself, to keep the win at Bethpage on Sunday.
“I was glad there weren’t any more holes to play,” Koepka said afterwards. “That was probably the happiest I’ve ever been.”
A Good Weekend for a Budding Star
He had plenty of reason to celebrate, securing a return to the number one spot and almost $2 million in the process. That’s a good weekend by anyone’s standard.
And yet Koepka remains on the periphery of golf superstardom. Hard to imagine there’s much more he can prove on the course, so perhaps he needs to demonstrate more off of it. The best golfers in the world currently (his friend and runner-up Johnson and Justin Rose follow him as two and three on the list) are not necessarily the most celebrated. It may be that their focus on the course does not give them the personality that other famous golfers have.
With that said, there’s no question that golf is as healthy as it has been in many years, perhaps ever. There may have been more eyes on the product when Tiger was dominating, but now that he’s back, there’s never been more competition. Koepka is at the top of the heap for now, but that could change any given weekend.
Koepka will have a chance to win his third straight U.S. Open and his fifth (and second consecutive) major title when the PGA descends on Pebble Beach June 13-16.