Major season has come to an end and we were all blessed to witness some incredible golf. We added two first time major champions to the club and have seen the rise of Brooks Koepka as he claimed both the US Open and PGA for the first time since Tiger in 2000. We saw close calls by Jordan, Justin, Rickie, and multiple by Mr. Woods. We saw championships at historic courses like Shinnecock Hills and Carnoustie, as well as a surprising success story of Bellerive. There were the rowdy New York fans and the enormous crowds in St. Louis. With the comeback of the greatest golfer of all time, and the rise of a new crop of young talent, this season has showed us that the state of the game is stronger than ever. A lot of it has to do with the man in Red on Sundays. Whether it’s the TV ratings, Twitter on the brink of short circuiting, or people who haven’t watched golf in their life texting me saying that watching him in the hunt is the most entertaining thing on TV. Tiger is the needle, and the needle has moved, HE’S FREAKING BACK!
Brooks had an incredible weekend in St. Louis, shooting 63 on Saturday and a final round 66 to hold off the charging Tiger and Adam Scott to win the 100th PGA Championship. He did it with his driver, which even under the pressure of the back nine on a Sunday, kept pounding fairway after fairway all the way to the finish line. Another crazy stat was that he had more than 40 chances in regulation inside of 18 feet. That makes birdies seem to fall from the sky. Even after back to back bogeys on holes 4 and 5, Koepka was able to stay poised among the barrage from Woods and Thomas and make a timely par. After that he ripped off birdies at 7, 8 and 9 to close out a 2 under front nine. Once again when Woods got within one shot of the lead after a birdie on 15, Brooks birdied 14 and 15 to push his lead out to 2 again. Standing on the tee box with a 2-shot lead, with Tiger in the club house at 14 under he stepped up, pulled the driver he had been crushing all day, and striped a 340-yard bomb right down the fairway leading to a stress-free par and his third major championship victory. He has now joined the elite company of those who have won 3 majors. This basically guarantee’s your place in the Hall of Fame. Brooks has 4 victories on Tour, 3 of them are majors which is very unique. He alluded to it in his post round press conference that getting into a routine off the course has helped him on the course. When he travels for majors he has his trainer, his agent, his swing coach, and his chef all under the same roof. He gets up and heads to the gym as soon as he wakes up, eats, and then heads to the course. This routine is obviously working, and maybe with the security financially and status wise on tour, he will be able to apply this to a more limited schedule going forward. If he can find a way to lock in this way a few more times a year, who knows how many tournaments he can win at the ripe age of 28. I look forward to watching him the rest of the season, and have a feeling he will be a big-time player on the Ryder Cup team in France.
If you are still a hater, a nay-sayer, or a doubter of Tiger after the performance he put on today, I feel sorry for you. Tiger shot a final round 64, the lowest round he as ever recorded in the final round of a major. His 72-hole total of 266 was also the lowest he has ever shot in a major championship. Tiger was 2 lip outs and a half roll away from shooting a legit 61 today. He managed to shoot a 6 under par 64 without hitting a fairway on the entire front nine, but his putter was on today. Between masterful iron shots, some timely scrambling and 23 putts, Tiger put himself in position to catch the trophy, if Brooks were to faulter. He did just that but Brooks stood firm and finished it out. Some will say, he didn’t win again, how is this a success or that’s one more year gone by with out his 15th major. Well let’s put things in perspective. This time last year, videos of Tiger hitting a chip shot and a few putts at a clinic were the only golf we thought we’d ever see from him. We saw him at the Hero, duffing chip shots around the green, then after a month he made the cut at the Farmers and finished T-23. After a T-10 at Honda, we had our first real opportunity for a win at Valspar, followed by a T-5 at the AP. He played well at the Players and The Quicken, leading into the Open Championship where we really saw the Tiger of old grinding and pulling off shots. He could have won that tournament but had one bad hole on the back nine on Sunday. This lead us to this weekend, where it looked like he was going to pull it off. It was with in his grasp, but without much of a swing off the tee, he scrambled, was flagging irons and most importantly to me, he was rolling the rock with confidence and making birdies when he needed to. From a hospital bed after a back fusion, which some people don’t realize means the rejoined two bones in his spine, he went from hoping to play catch with his kids, to going down the stretch at the Open and PGA. The man is a super human, and this was just another showing of that. I think he will win an event in the playoffs and even if he doesn’t he is going to be on the Ryder Cup Team. The most exciting thing to me is the fact he has played 14 tournaments and will likely be 18 or 19 before the year is over. After a full offseason to work on his physio, continued work on his swing, and improving on his driver has me excited for Augusta already. If he can pick up a win down the stretch or even one on the California swing next season, it will be hard to pick against him in early April.
Tiger will take the Wyndham off and get some much-needed rest and I’d bet some work with the big dog on the range. He has committed to the Northern Trust in two weeks which is the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Tiger moved up to 20th in the FedEx Cup standings which pretty much makes him a lock for the Tour Championship at East Lake. A win would be huge, as he now sits 26th in the OWGR and now 11th in the Ryder Cup Standings. A win in one of the first two playoff events would really put the golf world on notice just a month and a half away from the Ryder Cup. Exciting times ahead for our man Tiger and for the world of golf at large.
Stay out of the Tight Lies,