Chip Shots

The Money Is On Brooks

Koepka is on a roll

The PGA of America its 100th anniversary of the PGA Championship this past week and to be candid, it may take another 100 years to duplicate the 2018 edition.

The central participants were some of the biggest names in golf. Coming down the stretch on Sunday, so many big names were in the hunt with a chance to win.

Let me get this out right now. My pick for the week was Ricky Fowler. Going into the final round, my crystal ball was on fire. Too bad Ricky was not. Just three off the lead starting his Sunday round, Fowler was unable to make me a marked man around the sports betting windows in Vegas. Fowler, when he needed it the most, came up empty. In fairness to Ricky, he was playing hurt, with a rib injury.

Jon Rahm, from Spain, was also in the mix but a two-under-par Sunday round just didn’t get the job done. So, after 100 years of this championship, no player from Spain has ever won it. Defending champion, Justin Thomas, appeared at times on Sunday like he was going to step back into that winner’s circle, but missed some short putts to short circuit catching Brooks Koepka. Adam Scott, formers Masters champion, who was granted a special exemption into the field, justified the honor with his third-place finish. Scott competed this week with two putters in the bag, one long and one short, certainly not a boost of confidence.

The final round created a massive dose of excitement, as Tiger’s famous final round Sunday colors, the familiar red and black, were on display. One of the craziest stats in all of sports is that Tiger has never come from behind on Sunday to win a major. He was tough once again in the final round, and the crowds could not get enough. On his front nine, Tiger looked more like Houdini than a professional golfer.

He made four birdies and only one bogey in those first nine holes. What’s the big deal you say? Well, the Houdini named Tiger did not hit a single fairway in that stretch. On Championship Sunday, that’s like being in a heavyweight fight with one hand tied behind your back. He came up short but from where he was a year ago, not knowing whether he could play again, it was a remarkable performance.

Equally remarkable was when Tiger gave a thumbs up to the massive crowds after he finished play, much like Arnold Palmer was famous for doing. He also waited to congratulate Koepka as he came off the course, a great sign of respect.

This is the new gentler, kinder Tiger, which might be directly related to not knowing if he would ever get to play golf again due to his injuries. Apparently, he appreciates the second chance and has decided to make the most of it, for which I commend him. Also, it’s possible that thoughts of his friend, Jarrod Lyle, who lost his battle with cancer at the age of 36 earlier in the week might have crept into the picture. Unfortunately, there are no second chances for Lyle, who leaves behind a wife and two young daughters. From that perspective, Tiger’s second chance has to look awfully good.

Koepka, who looks like he could play any sport well, is on a roll. Out of the last six major championships that he has played in, he has won half of them. Only four players in history have won the U.S. Open and the PGA in the same year. Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. Koepka can now add his name to that short list in the history books.

At this place in time, we have three players one victory shy of winning all four of golf’s majors. The Masters, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship, and the PGA Championship. Rory McIlroy needs to win the Masters, Phil Mickelson needs to win the U.S. Open, and Jordan Spieth, the PGA Championship.

My money is on Koepka to win the Open Championship and the Masters to complete his career grand slam before the other three.