Koepka Wins PGA Championship, Vanquishing Demons and Boosting LIV
But much of the focus on Sunday was on Koepka, the budding Norwegian talent Viktor Hovland and Scottie Scheffler, the No. 2 player in the Official World Golf Ranking. Koepka, his standing shriveled because of his ties to LIV, whose tournaments are not accredited in the ranking system, entered Sunday at No. 44. (The PGA of America, which organized the tournament that finished on Sunday, is distinct from the PGA Tour, LIV’s rival.)
Koepka stepped into the first tee box with a one-stroke lead and doubled his margin in short order when he made a birdie on the second hole. He had played the hole to par the first three days, always reaching the green in two shots but leaving himself with long putts. On Sunday, with the pin at the front-right of the green, he needed less than five feet.
His birdie putt at the third hole required even less, followed by his longest tee shot of the tournament at the hole known as Vista, moving his advantage to three stokes.
The sixth hole, a threat to so many players throughout the tournaments, loomed. A par-4 challenge that the field finished in an average of 4.52 strokes, Koepka had survived it well enough on Thursday, Friday and Saturday: par in each of the first three rounds. On Sunday, though, his tee shot rocketed rightward, into an area by Allen’s Creek that would have been best to avoid. He took a drop and then, about 191 yards from the hole, struck it onto the green and eventually escaped with a bogey. Although Koepka followed with another bogey, Hovland also stumbled at No. 7.
At the turn, Koepka led Hovland by a lone stroke. Scheffler, a steady-voiced sensation since he won last year’s Masters, and Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open winner, were three off the lead.
Koepka answered with a tantalizing streak: birdie, bogey, birdie. Hovland had a chance for birdie at the 12th hole, but his tap from nearly 15 feet edged just left of the cup. With six holes to play, Koepka’s advantage was back to two strokes. Two holes later, it was down to one.
Havoc for Hovland came at no. 16, when, after his tee shot arrived in a bunker, he wielded his nine-iron. With less than 175 yards to the hole, he swung and blasted his ball—not onto the green, but into the bunker’s lip. His fourth shot reached the green. A bogey putt missed, leaving him with a double bogey. Koepka, in the twilight of his pursuit for his third PGA Championship, made a birdie to lay claim to a four-stroke lead.