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PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka banishes injury demons to strike first Major blow for LIV Golf

PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka banishes injury demons to strike first Major blow for LIV Golf

Brooks Koepka’s comeback from a career-threatening knee injury is complete, thanks to a fifth Major title secured in unflinching style at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

Koepka struck the first blow for the rebel tour LIV Golf League, as the first star to claim a Major while competing in the Saudi-backed breakaway. The 33-year-old banished the demons that led him to concede he had “choked” in the Masters’ final round six weeks ago.

Koepka’s injury woes started in 2019 with a torn patella tendon, which quickly led to hip trouble a year later. But in March 2021, Koepka slipped at home, dislocated his kneecap, tried to slot it back into place and shredded multiple ligaments.

Some 26 months later, the Florida native is back with all the muscular course control that led to four Majors in 2018 and 2019 — and back with the leaderboard dominance that deserted him at Augusta.

“I guess if anybody doubted it, I’m back, I’m here,” said Koepka, sitting next to the Wanamaker Trophy.

Back on top: Brooks Koepka won his third PGA Championship and fifth Major title at Oak Hill (USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con)
Back on top: Brooks Koepka won his third PGA Championship and fifth Major title at Oak Hill (USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con)

Just as at Augusta, Koepka took a one-shot lead into the final round on Sunday. But this time there was to be no wilting.

Koepka bristled all the way to a closing 67 for a nine-under-par finish and his third US PGA crown, as Viktor Hovland shared second at seven under with Scottie Scheffler. Rory McIlroy tied for seventh at two under, with Justin Rose sharing ninth place at one under.

“It was a lot worse than I let on,” said Koepka, of his injury rut. “It’s very hard to explain; you can’t fathom how difficult it is just to get going. Maybe only five, six people really know the extent of it, and it was hard. The swelling didn’t go down until a couple of months ago.

“That’s almost, what, two years? It’s been a long road. [This win] feels damned good, special. I think this one is probably the most meaningful of them all with everything that’s gone on, all the crazy stuff over the last few years.

“But it feels good to be back and to get No5. I want to keep doing what I’m doing. It’s working so far, back to having a chance pretty much every time I tee it up.”

Greg Norman hailed Koepka’s victory as a shot in the arm for LIV, but the US star dismissed the plaudits from the tour’s chief executive. Asked if he had spoken to Norman in the wake of his win, Koepka replied: “I haven’t even spoken to my wife yet. It helps LIV, but I’m more interested in myself right now.”