USGA CHAMPIONS
Champions Update: Koepka in Rarified Air After PGA Championship Victory August 13, 2018 | Liberty Corner, N.J. By David Shefter, USGA

Brooks Koepka became the fifth golfer to win the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in the same year. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

If Brooks Koepka’s career winds up as good as the other four players who have won a U.S. Open and PGA Championship in the same year, then he is bound for legendary status.

The 28-year-old Floridian, who in June became the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to successfully defend his U.S. Open title, joined Gene Sarazen (1922), Ben Hogan (1948), Jack Nicklaus (1980) and Tiger Woods (2000) as the fifth person to claim the U.S. Open and PGA in the same year.

All four who came before him have one thing in common – they achieved the career Grand Slam.

Koepka outdueled a host of contenders on Sunday at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Mo., including a hard-charging Woods, to claim the 100th PGA Championship by two strokes. And Koepka needed a final-round, 4-under 66 to etch his name on the Wanamaker Trophy.

He’s now one of 17 golfers to amass three major titles, and one of a handful to do it before turning 30. When he tees it up in the 119th U.S. Open next June, site of this week’s U.S. Amateur, Koepka will be looking to become the first player to win the championship in three straight years since Willie Anderson from 1903-05.

“It’s incredible,” said Koepka, who was sidelined nearly four months earlier this year due to a wrist injury and missed the first major of 2018, The Masters. “To think where I was four months ago, I didn’t really even dream about [winning two majors in 2018] — and to come out here and play as well as we did, it’s really incredible.”

Not only did he overcome physical issues, but on Sunday, he had to mentally block out the enormous roars emanating from the group in front of him. Woods, a nine-time USGA champion who was seeking his first major title since his dramatic 2008 U.S. Open triumph, carded a 6-under 64 – his best final round in a major – to get within two strokes of Koepka. But Koepka delivered a clutch birdie at No. 16 and then finished with two pars to fend off the former world No. 1.

“Yeah, obviously it was kind of the first time Tiger’s been in contention and I’ve been in contention at the same time, so the fans definitely let you know what he was doing,” said Koepka. “And I was playing with Scotty (Adam Scott), so I knew what I was up against. And Scotty played unbelievably well and so did Tiger. They definitely made me question it there for a bit or think about it, for sure.”

David Shefter is a senior writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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