PGA Championship 2019

Koepka is his own man: Scott

A victory for Brooks Koepka of the United States at the PGA Championship will mean that he will become the first man to hold back-to-back titles in two Majors simultaneously. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A victory for Brooks Koepka of the United States at the PGA Championship will mean that he will become the first man to hold back-to-back titles in two Majors simultaneously. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He says it's unfair to compare runaway leader to Tiger; Brooks wants to write 'own history'

NEW YORK • Brooks Koepka is playing at a level that evokes comparisons to a 20-something Tiger Woods in his prime.

A victory at the PGA Championship will mean that he will become the first man to hold back-to-back titles in two Majors simultaneously.

No player has taken a seven-stroke lead into a Major and yet lost, and a win would restore Koepka to the world No. 1 ranking, making him the fifth PGA wire-to-wire winner after Hal Sutton in 1983, Ray Floyd in 1982, Jack Nicklaus in 1971 and Bobby Nichols in 1964.

But former world No. 1 Adam Scott is not quite ready to anoint the 29-year-old, who has also won past two US Opens, as the next Woods, who led the Tour in victories in a season 11 times in 13 years, beginning in 1997 and has clinched 15 Majors.

However, the Australian, who ended Saturday's third round tied for eighth at three-under 207 after carding a two-over 72, insisted "that was no disrespect to Brooks".

He added: "It's not quite the same... comparing anything to Tiger is a little unfair in a good or a bad way.

"It would be probably bringing down what he (Woods) managed to accomplish. He did this multiple times in Majors, let alone (regular PGA Tour) tournaments."

  • LEADERBOARD

  • 3RD ROUND

    (Selected, USA unless stated)

    198 Brooks Koepka 63 65 70

    205 Harold Varner 71 67 67, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 70 68 67, Luke List 68 68 69, Dustin Johnson 69 67 69

    206 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 70 68 68, Matt Wallace (Eng) 69 67 70

    207 Xander Schauffele 70 69 68, Patrick Cantlay 69 70 68, Adam Scott (Aus) 71 64 72, Jordan Spieth 69 66 72

    208 Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 70 68 70, Kang Sung (Kor)

    68 70 70

    209 Rickie Fowler 69 69 71, Danny Lee (Nzl) 64 74 71

    210 Danny Willett (Eng) 71 70 69, Lucas Glover 72 69 69, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 67 71 72, Justin Rose (Eng) 70 67 73

    211 Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 70 68 73

    212 Kiradech Aphibarnrat 76 68 68, Jason Day (Aus) 69 74 69, Rory McIlroy (Nir) 72 71 69, Li Haotong (Chn) 73 69 70

But Koepka has insisted he is chasing neither history nor glory at Bethpage Black, but was content to just write his own story.

The American, who carded a 70 for a 54-hole total of 12-under 198, said: "I'm just trying to do me. Obviously, to win would be great. But I mean, it is just another day of work for me."

Koepka takes pride in being "pretty flat-lined most of the time", and believes his clear-headed approach and calmness under pressure separate him from his rivals.

He added: "I feel like it's simpler than what guys think. Guys make the mistake of trying to figure out, when they get to a Major, what's going on, what's different.

"It's not. It's just focus. It's grind it out, suck it up and move on. You're going to make a lot of mistakes. It's a Major championship. You know it's going to happen and guys have a hard time letting that go."

Another of his strengths is that he is a basher of the ball, who goes about his job with a ticket-taker's emotionless efficiency, helped by raw physical attributes.

Of Koepka, Brandel Chamblee, a Golf Channel analyst, said: "He's built like Hulk Hogan and swings like Ben Hogan."

Although it remains too early to say, one can imagine him challenging one of Woods' most notable achievements - his double-digit margins of victory in two Majors while in his 20s.

His final-round average is 67.75, which makes him a formidable front runner, though Scott jokingly hopes "it's not 12 years like Tiger's front running lasted".

Singapore Open champion Jazz Janewattananond, who missed last year's British Open cut in his only prior Major, shared second on five-under 205, and the Thai feels he has "exceeded my expectation already" going into the final round.

A strong PGA showing will vault him up the rankings and, with Jazz ranked 16th on the qualifying list for this December's Presidents Cup matches in Melbourne, Australia, the 23-year-old admitted "it's on the back of my mind for sure".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2019, with the headline 'Koepka is his own man: Scott'. Print Edition | Subscribe