LIV golf rebel Brooks Koepka wins USPGA Championship and hands Ryder Cup bosses HUGE selection dilemma
LIV rebel Brooks Koepka bounced back from his self-confessed “choke” at the Masters to win his fifth Major title at a dramatic USPGA Championship.
And he handed Ryder Cup bosses a massive dilemma with his two shot victory from Scottie Scheffler, with a gallant Viktor Hovland in third – cursing a fatal error, when he blasted his ball from the sand into the face of a bunker at the 16th.
Brooks Koepka celebrates winning on the 18th green during the final round of the 2023 PGA ChampionshipGetty
APKoepka holds aloft the Wanamaker trophy after winning the PGA Championship golf tournament[/caption]
GettyKoepka and runner-up Viktor Hovland shake hands on the 18th green after the American wins[/caption]
GettyIt is Koepka’s fifth Major title[/caption]
APKoepka has now handed Zach Johnson a Ryder Cup selection dilemma[/caption]
Zach Johnson and his advisers now have to decide whether Koepka should get one of the American captain’s six picks for Rome in September.
The USA Ryder Cup team is the responsibility of the PGA of America, not the PGA Tour. So their ban on the LIV golfers does not apply to the4 Ryder Cup.
And the PGA of America top brass will not take too kindly if their champion golfer is kicking his heels at home while Zach Johnson’s team bids for a first victory on European soil for thirty years.
Especially when he has also finished runner-up at the Masters, where he admitted he stayed up all night cursing himself for his safety-first approach in the final round.
That allowed world No 1 Jon Rahm to wipe out Koepka’s two shot lead and snatch the green jacket from his grasp.
While he is at it, Zach Johnson should consider giving 46 year old PGA Professional Michael Block – the unlikely cult hero of this gripping Major championship – one of his six wild cards as well.
Block, who teed off alongside Rory McIlroy just six shots off the lead, earned the biggest roar of the week with a stunning hole in one at the 151 yards 15th hole.
His ball did not even touch the sides as it slam-dunked into the hole, with a disbelieving Block turning to McIlroy to ask: “Has it gone in? Straight in. Really!”.
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Block was the only one of the 20 PGA professionals who qualified for this event through their own national championship to make the cut at Oak Hill.
He captured the hearts and imaginations of golf fans everywhere with the swashbuckling approach that saw him reel off three successive 70s, on a course playing brutally tough.
Block normally earns his living by giving £120 an hour lessons at Arroyo Trabuco, the public course in California where he has been the head professional for the last 19 years.
Sky Sports commentator Brad Faxon summed up his appeal, saying: “Just hear those crowds, They just love him. They’re all thinking he’s a working class guy, just like us.
“He could stand for president right now, and win by a landslide.”
And that was BEFORE his ace!
EPAMcIlroy hit a hole in one on the 15th[/caption]
ReutersJon Rahm in action on the ninth in the final round[/caption]
That Blockbuster almost overshadowed a brilliant duel for the title between Koepka and Hovland.
After missing out at Augusta, Koepka vowed: “I’ll never make the same mistake again, I don’t mind getting beat – but not when I’m playing to not lose, rather than playing to win.”
There was no-pussy-footing this time, as he turned his one shot lead into a three shot advantage with a hat-trick of bogeys from the second hole.
At that stage it looked like ti would prove a walk in the park for Koepka, who has overcome recurring knee problems – and an £80millon switch to LIV – to recapture the form that brought him four Majors in quick succession from 2017-20019.
But playing partner Hovland, 25, refused to be intimidated. He made back-to-back birdies of his own at four and five to cut the deficit to two, and was only one behind before that cruel blow at the 16th, which cost him a double bogey.
The way his ball failed to clear the lip of the bunker was an exact replica of the fate suffered by Corey Conners when he was leading the tournament 24 hours earlier.
He did the same thing, from the same bunker!
But take nothing away from Koepka, whose . He really is a Major-winning machine, and in this mood he could strengthen his Ryder Cup place when he tees it up at the US Open and the Open in the next two months.
McIlroy’s own bid for a fifth Major never really got going, and by the end he seemed happy to hand the limelight to his new pal, Block, who earned a cool £230,000 for a share of 15th place – his biggest payday by a country mile..
McIlroy’s closing 69 gave him a share of seventh place, while Justin Rose’s one over par 71 dropped him into a tie for ninth place.
EPAMcIlroy finished on 69 and came seventh[/caption]
GettyJustin Rose’s one over par 71 dropped into a tie for ninth place[/caption]