Brooks Koepka may have won the PGA Championship, but Tiger Woods stole the show with a vintage display that sent fans into meltdown.
Koepka managed to hold off an inspired Tiger charge to win the US PGA Championship and claim his third major championship title.
The big-hitting American fired a four-under-par 66 at Missouri’s Bellerive Country Club to earn a 16-under total and a two-shot win from 14-time major champion Woods (64), with Australia’s Adam Scott (67) third at 13 under.
The 28-year-old Koepka successfully defended his breakthrough 2017 US Open victory at Shinnecock Hills this year.
Woods finished in style with a birdie on the last for a 64 to match the day’s best round with Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello and Englishman Tyrrell Haton.
But Koepka was not to be denied as the American claimed his third major in 14 months.
The victory places the 28-year-old in elite company as he joins Woods, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win the US Open and US PGA in the same season.
Crazy scenes as Tiger pandemonium takes over
For most of the final round, Woods cast a shadow on the entire tournament, and not just because he was there, but because he was producing the first real meaningful “Tiger Moments” since his return from back surgery(-ies).
You know the kind. There’s the Finger Point at the 2000 PGA. The Chip In at No. 16 at the 2005 Masters. The upper-cut fist pumps everywhere.
Sunday’s first came came via an out-of-nowhere, potentially tournament ending shank that morphed into a birdie. After yanking his drive at 9 into the gallery on the right side, Woods faced an impossible angle to the green, with the pin tucked into the left corner.
Winding up, Woods unleashed a massive swing, hooking the ball around the trees in front of him, onto the green and … just 17 feet from the pin. The energy that followed his march to the green exploded when he drained the putt, eliciting a vintage fist pump.
At that moment, he was just one shot off the lead.
Tiger started the day four back of Koepka, and despite the flailing off the tee on the front nine and some more on the back, Tiger kept turning back the clock — with a lengthy birdie putt on 12 and another at 13, to move him within one of the lead.
It was most definitely on.
But even with the gallery willing him on — to a final round 64 — there was no slowing down Koepka.
Low key only in personality, Koepka kept proving that his victory at the 2017 U.S. Open was 100 percent notification of a golfer on the come up. You don’t win back-to-back U.S. Opens on a fluke.
So his spot atop the leaderboard throughout the weekend at Bellerive wasn’t surprising to anyone. And neither was his steel to stay there despite the charge of the red-cladded legend, whose birdie on 18 moved him into a tie for second.
For Woods, this will be a tournament of what ifs, which is always the case when you lose, but in this case, they won’t go away quickly.
During Saturday’s third round, he missed eight straight birdie putts, including a 3-putt on 17 that turned a potential eagle into a hugely disappointing par.
The string continued Sunday when he had a birdie putt on No. 1 lip out. Then there was 11, when his birdie opportunity slammed on the brakes on the lip of the cup, only unlike 2005 at the Masters, it didn’t drop. And 14, when his putt to salvage par lipped out. And …
But even after the bogey at 14, Tiger was not done, because Tiger Woods does not play for second. He stuck his approach at 15 to 18 inches.
“Yeah,” he said to himself through gritted teeth.
He shook off a par (that felt like a bogey) at 17 with that birdie at 18. And when he walked off the course, up and over the players’ stairway above the crowd, he turned to see a gathering of thousands staring up at him.
He gave a thumbs up and smiled.