Brooks Koepka has now won back-to-back US PGA Championships. That’s to go along with his back-to-back US Opens. Koepka produced that never-before-produced double despite some unsteady golf down the stretch in the final round at Bethpage’s Black course, but had enough to keep Dustin Johnson at bay to win by two shots.
Although Johnson made a nice run to create some high drama, make no mistake: Koepka won the PGA over the first 54 holes, creating a seven-shot cushion heading into Sunday (a lead, as it turned out, he desperately needed). The now four-time Major champion did it the way he usually does – with a superior tee-to-green game along with a deadly (and highly underrated) short game combined with making enough putts to win.
How superior was the tee-to-green game? Consider that despite the final-nine hiccups, Koepka ranked second in strokes gained/off-the-tee; first in strokes gained/approach-the-green and first in strokes gained/tee-to-green (at a ridiculous 17.354 strokes). He also led the field in greens in regulation and was 10th in scrambling, meaning that he missed few greens and when he did, saved par most of the time.
Koepka averaged 313.2 yards (286.4 metres) in driving distance with his 10.5-degree TaylorMade M5 driver with a Mitsubishi Diamana White D+ 70 TX shaft. Koepka, used the M3 460 model earlier in the year, but switched to the company’s M5 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship earlier this year.
The driver uses inject-face technology in which the spring-like effect of the club is brought beyond the legal limit then brought back to conformance by injecting a resin behind the face to slow it down just enough to be legal. The club also employs the company’s TwistFace technology in which the face is gently curved more open on the high toe and closed on the low heel areas to help mitigate mis-hits. Koepka had the adjustable weights set in a split position with one far forward and one far back in the track that runs from front to back.
Koepka’s irons are Mizuno’s JPX 919 Tour, which boast a design where the topline is selectively thinned and the saved mass relocated in the toe and sole to provide added forgiveness. More toe weight also offers a more centralised sweet spot – a spot Koepka frequently finds.
But perhaps the shot of the tournament was the Titleist Vokey SM7 gap wedge that he hit from 146 metres downwind on the 10th hole, generally considered one of the most difficult on the course, to tap-in range. Moments later, Johnson made bogey at the 11th and the lead was back to six, which proved critical considering how the rest of the round played out.
Which ended in Koepka becoming a back-to-back champion. Again.
What Brooks Koepka had in the bag at the PGA Championship:
Driver: TaylorMade M5 (Mitsubishi Diamana White Board D + 70), 10.5 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade M2 2017, 16.5 degrees
Irons (3): Nike Vapor Fly Pro; (4-PW): Mizuno JPX 919 Tour
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (52, 56 degrees); Titleist Vokey SM4 TVD (60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2 SLT 10
Ball: Titelst Pro V1x