The 100th PGA Championship may go down as the best; at least the most thrilling.
Bellerive Country Club offered golf fans the chance to usher in a new star, root for an old legend, and become an Australian for a week. Almost everyone associated with golf had a heavy heart this week following the passing of former Tour pro Jarrod Lyle, which was why players wore yellow ribbons on their hats.
Adam Scott, who had not won a major since 2013, was tied for the lead on the back nine Sunday, hoping to get his career back in order, while also paying tribute to Lyle, his fellow Australian.
Ultimately, Brooks Koepka defeated Tiger Woods by two shots, capturing his third career major title.
Here are the winners and losers from the 2018 PGA Championship:
Brooks Koepka — The 28-year-old former Florida State star exuded confidence and patience all week to win his third major since last June. Koepka, who missed over four months this year with a wrist injury, said he re-fell in love with golf during his time on the couch. Physically intimidating, and quietly one of the best putters on Tour, Koepka looks poised to rack up majors in bunches.
“This is really heavy. How’d @JustinThomas34 do it?” -@BKoepka ? pic.twitter.com/oKgBIvcgjZ
— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) August 12, 2018
On a weekly basis, Koepka is underrated. He isn’t talked about like a Dustin Johnson or Rory McIlroy. Others like Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas are often given the label of “best under 30”, and Rickie Fowler and Jason Day have demanded more attention with weaker resumes. It’s time Koepka earned everyone’s respect. He has the potential to dominate the game.
Adam Scott — It’s hard to believe Scott is only 38 years old. The graying Australian looked like a distant memory up against the likes of Koepka and Woods. But Scott hung in there, even tying Koepka for the lead on the back nine Sunday. It’s been a rough couple years for Scott, who entered the week ranked 76th in the world. He also needed a special invitation to even get in the field this week.
However, Scott, using a long putter away from his body, made enough putts to turn back the clock to 2011-2014 when he was contending in every major. Like all the Australians in the field, Scott had an extra chip on his shoulder, playing for the Lyle family. He did them, and the rest of his nation, proud with his performance and classy demeanor.
Tiger Woods — The world might have erupted had Woods come from behind to win Sunday. Ever since 2013, when he won five times on the PGA Tour, golf fans have held their breath every time Woods picked his ball out of the cup, wondering if his back would give way. But Woods has saved his best magic for this season, finishing in the top 12 seven times, including two straight top-6 finishes in majors.
It seemed Woods would never win another major title. He would forever be stuck at 14, the number he reached in 2008. But now, not only does 15 look realistic, but his hunt for Jack Nicklaus and 18 majors may be back on.
Paul Casey — Talk about a disaster. Not only did he miss the cut by a wide margin after shooting 75-73, he may have just played himself off the European Ryder Cup team. Captain Thomas Bjorn convinced Casey to renew his European tour status this year to become eligible for Ryder Cup consideration. Casey started the year off strong, but his recent poor form may keep off the roster.
Also, Casey has the talent to win major championships. This week’s dud has to be demoralizing for a player now over 40 years old running out of chances to win his first major.
Patrick Reed — A win at the Masters and a fourth-place finish at the U.S. Open had many wondering if this was the year Reed would finally fulfill his long-time prophecy and become a top-5 player on Tour. Well, he missed the cut this week and has just one top 10 since the U.S. Open. Reed began the week 12th in the world, and will likely fall.
Reed’s talent is undeniable. He’s just inconsistent. He’s had stretches of top form, going up against the game’s best and making them look average. But he’s had too many ghost spells in his career, where he’s not a factor on the weekends.
Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia — The two European stars are currently off the Ryder Cup roster, needing a captain’s pick to make the roster. Both missed the cut this week, and Garcia has been in dreadful form most of the year. Neither player has enjoyed a great year, but Stenson has fought hard while battling injury.
The two veterans seemed like locks to make Europe’s squad this fall in France, but their poor performance at Bellerive may have thrown that into doubt. It seems hard to imagine Stenson and Garcia both missing out, but Bjorn may not be able to afford taking two out-of-form golfers to France.