PGA TOURLeaderboardWatchNewsFedExCupSchedulePlayersStatsGolfbetMorePGA TOURPGA TOUR ChampionsKorn Ferry TourPGA TOUR CanadaPGA TOUR LatinoaméricaLPGA TOURDP World TourPGA TOUR University

Brooks Koepka chases major dominance but challengers have their own fate to seal

4 Min Read


    Written by Ben Everill @BEverillGolfbet

    SAN FRANCISCO – Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka couldn’t help himself. He had to let them all know.

    Koepka had just finished off a battling 1-under 69 in the third round at the PGA Championship as he chases a historic third straight Wanamaker trophy. It put him in a tie for fourth at seven under just two shots back of Dustin Johnson’s lead.

    “(Winning) the second (major) definitely is a little bit tougher, I think, as you can see from the top of the leaderboard,” he deadpanned before grinning.

    It was a quick swipe at not just Johnson, who has 21 TOUR wins but only one major to his name but also fellow contenders Justin Rose and Jason Day. Both Rose and Day also are part of the one major club and will start three shots off the pace come Sunday.

    Johnson wasn’t fazed. He rarely is at least on the outside.

    “I have been out here awhile now. I've been in contention a lot, and I've got it done a lot of times,” he said after an impressive 5-under 65 on Saturday that included a double bogey.

    “I've been in the hunt a bunch of times in a major. I've got one major, so having that experience is definitely going to be beneficial tomorrow. I'm going to have to play good golf if I want to win. It's simple; I've got to hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. If I can do that tomorrow, I'm going to have a good chance coming down the stretch on the back nine.”

    Behind Johnson is an incredible leaderboard that boasts 16 players within four shots of his lead and houses some distinct themes.

    While Koepka stands alone as the dominant major winner and Johnson, Rose and Day are chasing the elusive second major, Sunday could be the day some perennial door knockers might finally breakthrough.

    Tony Finau has finished inside the top 10 in five of the last eight majors without winning one. Tommy Fleetwood has been runner up twice and fourth on another occasion in majors over the last three seasons. They’ll both start three back.

    Paul Casey joins Koepka two shots off the lead in his 64th major championship. His last top-10 in a major was the 2017 Masters where he finished sixth while his best major finish was a T3 at the 2010 Open Championship.

    “I'm probably considered a veteran now, which I don't mind if I am. I'm 43, and playing against guys in their 20s, early 20s, barely in their 20s, I relish that challenge,” Casey said.

    “They probably weren't watching me growing up. They were watching Tiger or Phil or whoever their favorite player was, but they probably saw my name on leaderboards occasionally, so it's nice I'm still hanging around out here with a chance to beat them.”

    Yes indeed, the youth brigade is heavily represented. Fleetwood sneaks into the 20-somethings at 29 but check out the other contenders.

    Tied second just a shot behind the lead are 24-year-old Scottie Scheffler and 25-year-old Cameron Champ. Joining those at seven under is 23-year-old Collin Morikawa.

    Bryson DeChambeau and Daniel Berger are almost old men at 26 and 27 respectively. They are part of the tie for seventh, three off the pace.

    And sitting four back are Matthew Wolff (21), Si Woo Kim (25), Xander Schauffele (26) and Haotong Li (25).

    All of the 20-somethings are looking for their first major championship. And despite the fact there won’t be thousands of screaming fans ramping up the pressure on Sunday due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will still be there. So says Koepka anyway.

    Koepka has four majors as part of his seven PGA TOUR wins including the last two PGA Championships. He is vying to become the first player since Australian Peter Thomson won the Open Championship in 1954, 1955 and 1956, to win three of the same major consecutively.

    The only player to win the PGA Championship three years in a row is Walter Hagen, who won four titles from 1924 to 1927 when it was a match play event.

    “I like my chances. When I've been in this position before, I've capitalized,” he said. “I'm playing good. I don't know, we'll see. It's just a comfort level. I feel very comfortable around the lead in the big events. I'm looking forward to it tomorrow. It should be a fun shootout.”

    Day was standing within earshot as Koepka delivered his lines and could only grin and laugh it off. He has 12 PGA TOUR victories but the 2015 PGA Championship is his only major. He wasn’t letting Koepka’s mind games work.

    He called for officials to set up a tough test, partly because he’s led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach this week and feels it will root out the real competitors.

    “I feel like the cream rises to the top once it's tough, and it's going to be Sunday at a major championship,” Day said. “Everyone is going to be feeling it tomorrow. There's a lot more nerves. It's the last day. There's no more days after this, so there's going to be a lot of pressure out there.”

    Buckle up, it should be a wild ride.

    Privacy PolicyTerms of ServiceAccessibility StatementDo Not Sell or Share My Personal InformationCookie ChoicesSitemap

    Copyright © 2023 PGA TOUR, Inc. All rights reserved.

    PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions, and the Swinging Golfer design are registered trademarks. The Korn Ferry trademark is also a registered trademark, and is used in the Korn Ferry Tour logo with permission.