Brooks Koepka’s nerveless display denies Tiger Woods fairytale victory

Brooks Koepka held off challenges from Tiger Woods and Adam Scott to take the US PGA title as huge crowds at Bellerive cheered Tiger through a rollercoaster final round

A slam of the driver into turf meant Tiger Woods knew this was the end, even if it may, in fact, be another beginning. He swayed said club through the air in a subsequent fit of pique. At the 71 st hole of the 100 th US PGA Championship, his errant ball buried in foliage, Woods’s annoyances were echoed throughout golf, which was denied the finest tale of all. Although it was epic fun while it lasted, it was over.

Woods did more than enough during this major to indicate he will take delivery of a 15 th major. Even if he does not win another of golf’s big four , nobody can now reasonably assert he cannot. A Bellerive total of 266 shots is the lowest of Woods’s major career.

This mattered little to the man himself, whose competitive instinct entails falling short will never be acceptable. Woods has returned from personal, physical and professional distress to run so close here. A staggering 3,710 days had passed since he claimed his 14 th major, virtually on one leg, at Torrey Pines.

Brooks Koepka is the Missouri Tiger Slayer. The 28 -year-old stimulates great play of the fact that golf does not excite him, which make one wonder what on earth he would achieve if invigorated. In the space of 14 months Koepka has claimed three majors: the US Open twice, plus the US PGA. For all Woods’s brilliance when carding 64 on day four, at no stage did he tie Koepka.

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The subtle implication here is that in Woods’s pomp he could intimidate opponents in a manner that is he could not with Koepka. Woods signed off with a birdie- well, he had to- to pinch second place from Adam Scott by a stroke. When strolling from the final green he was hailed in a manner befitting a triumphant Roman gladiator.

Rounds of 69, 63, 66 and 66 were sufficient for Koepka, at 16 under par, to upstage Woods by two. This was a US PGA scoring record. Koepka is only the fifth human to win the US Open and US PGA in the same season. The identity of the others highlights how difficult such an outcome is; Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods.

Woods’s front nine of 32 was remarkable because he failed to find a single fairway from the tee. Spectators required crash helmets as balls flew wildly left and right. It is, however, an unfortunate banality at this level that shots played significantly off line can end up in better positions than narrow misses due to the trampling down of grass by galleries.

The marquee moment arrived at the 9th, minutes after Woods had what has become a customary change of shirt. He made an approach from this public province to within 17 ft of the beaker. As his birdie putt dropped, a roaring echoed around Bellerive; it may well have done likewise throughout St Louis.

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Woods duly find the short stuff from the 10 th tee before collecting shots at the 12 th and 13 th. For the latter of those, a glorious iron was played to 10ft at the par-three. The golfing world held its breath- again.

Trouble arrived on the next hole. In truth it was inevitable given the earlier wayward extent of Woods’s play. A pushed tee shot caused sufficient problems for a bogey to ensue, even if there was a millisecond of drama as the 42 -year-old’s putt for par agonisingly lipped out.

The battling qualities so rightly associated with arguably the finest golfer of all time came to the fore at the 15 th, as his approach from 164 yards fell at blow-in range.

As all eyes followed the Tiger, Scott made fodder. He tied for the result at the 13 th, with a pulled tee shot on the next retrieved by way of a pinpoint iron. Matters would turn against the former Masters champ thereafter as Koepka edged ahead with a birdie at the 15 th before placing a tee shot to within 7ft of the 16 th. Scott had missed that green. When Koepka converted, the trophy engraver could get to work.

As this wonderfully gripping drama unfolded on a glitter-infused leaderboard, it seemed faintly ludicrous that people in the UK were being denied viewing via linear broadcasting. One of the finest majors of recent times was playing out as the public scrambled towards apps. This may be the future but there seems no need for it in the existing. Someone, somewhere, blundered badly.

Europeans featured prominently, a promising fact in a Ryder Cup year. Jon Rahm shared fourth at minus 11. Thomas Pieters and Francesco Molinari were among those in a affiliation for sixth.

Justin Rose closed with a 68 and a share of 19 th at seven under. Among those in Rose’s finishing company was Matt Wallace, who revelled in a first US PGA appearance. Wallace barely stopped smiling all week.

It is hardly being disrespectful to Koepka to suggest golf would have been smiling in the event of a Woods success. Here i am , nonetheless, cause to nurse the dream.

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