FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) – The Latest on the PGA Championship on Sunday (all times local):
Brooks Koepka’s command of the PGA Championship seemed to be in potential jeopardy when Dustin Johnson moved within four strokes midway through the final around.
Then a poor drive by Johnson on the 11th hole and an approach shot into a bunker led to a bogey 5, his first bogey of the round after three birdies on the opening nine.
Koepka, the defending champion, then hit his approach at the 10th hole within 3 feet and knocked it in to retake a six-stroke advantage.
Koepka is seeing his fourth major in two years: two straight U.S. Open and two consecutive PGAs.
With three birdies on the front nine in blustery winds, top-ranked Dustin Johnson closed within four shots of leader Brooks Koepka in the final round of the PGA Championship.
While Koepka had a bogey and a birdie through seven holes, Johnson made the turn with a 3-under 32. That brought him to 8 under overall, with his close buddy and workout partner Koepka at 12 under.
Johnson’s approach on the 9th stopped 2 feet from the pin for a tap-in birdie. It shrunk Koepka’s lead to the smallest since Friday.
His other birdies came on the par-5 4th and on No. 6.
As if it wasn’t tough enough to play long and hilly Bethpage Black, the wind picked up for the final round of the PGA Championship.
Winds of 15-20 mph buffeted the course Sunday as defending champion Brooks Koepka tried to ride a seven-stroke lead to his second straight PGA win. Matt Kuchar managed to break par for the first time, but he was relieved to get off the course at 1 under and finish at 1 over for the tournament.
“It is a hard, hard day out there. I mean this course is hard under benign conditions. It’s really, really challenging out there today,” he said as flags blew stiff all around the scoring tent. “It was tough all day. The guys in the afternoon are going to get the brunt of it for sure.”
The wind was picking up when Koepka teed off at 2:35 p.m. along with Harold Varner III, who was tied with three others after 54 holes. Varner was four over through five holes, Luke List was three over through six and Jazz Janewattananond was even after six. Dustin Johnson had two birdies to move into a tie for second at 7 under.
Koepka was even for the day and still 12 under for the tournament after six holes on Sunday.
“You look at how consistent Brooks has been playing, it’s hard to see him going that sideways, being that steady. Everybody here is betting on him winning,” Kuchar said. “But it’s conditions like these, where it has a chance for somebody to catch him if he takes a stumble.”
Harold Varner III needed only one hole to pull within five shots of Brooks Koepka, the smallest gap Koepka had faced all weekend in the PGA Championship. Just as quickly, Varner faded.
He made a short birdie on No. 1, a two-shot swing when Koepka made bogey from the rough.
On the par-3 third hole, Varner found a bunker and then three-putted for double bogey. It got worse. From deep rough left of the fairway on the par-5 fourth, the thick grass grabbed his club and sent the ball straight left. They never found it, so Varner had to return to the rough and play his fourth shot. He wound up with another double bogey and was suddenly 10 shots behind.
The beast came out at Bethpage Black in the final round of the PGA Championship.
Before runaway leader Brooks Koepka had teed off in the afternoon, there were 26 double bogeys or higher. In the third round, when conditions got tougher as the wind picked up, there were 31 total – all doubles.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand had 6s on the par-4 5th and 7th holes. Daniel Berger had two double bogeys in his 78, including a 7 on the par-5 13th.
Ryan Vermeer doubled the 10th and 12th. Bronson Burgoon went double bogey on 12 and 15. Thorbjorn Olesen, who began the day with two birdies, made a double on No. 16.
Matt Kuchar and Charles Howell III, paired together, each had a double. And Tommy Fleetwood, who began the day at even par, doubled the 3rd and 6th holes.
Daniel Berger had a washout of a weekend at Bethpage Black.
Berger was in the next-to-last pairing with Adam Scott on Saturday after shooting 70 and 66. He ballooned to a 78 in the third round to sink any chances of winning his first major.
He was just as bad in the final round, with no birdies and, perhaps worst of all, a bogey and a double bogey on the par 5s. A second straight 78 sent him from the leaderboard to among the worst scores through 72 holes, 12-over 292.
Berger, 26, is ranked 89th in the world and had his best finish in this event last year, tying for 12th. He has two PGA Tour wins, both at Memphis in 2016 and ’17.
After Phil Mickelson didn’t contend at this year’s PGA Championship, he praised the course and the fans, and then looked ahead to the next big event at Bethpage Black.
Mickelson never could tame the Black Course, finishing with a 76 that included only one birdie. He wound up at 12-over 292; leader Brooks Koepka began the final round at 12 under.
That didn’t stop Mickelson from giving a verbal love letter to the public course and New York in general.
“It’s a great venue, a fair but difficult venue, and I love coming out here,” the five-time major winner said. “The fans have treated me so well and I appreciate all the years they’ve been so great to me.”
In five years, Bethpage Black will host the Ryder Cup. Considering how rowdy local fans get even for a tour tournament such as The Barclays, Lefty couldn’t contain his enthusiasm about what a Ryder Cup scene might be.
“I can’t wait to see it or be watching it,” said the soon-to-be 49-year-old Mickelson, the presumed captain of the U.S. team for that event. “I am so glad they did it, I think it’s fantastic.”
Rob Labritz finished as the low club pro in the PGA Championship.
Labritz, from the GlenArbor Golf Club in the New York City suburb of Bedford Hills, shot 2-over 72 in the final round at Bethpage Black and finished with a total of 10 over.
The top 20 finishers in the annual PGA Professional Championship qualify for the tournament, and only three made the cut. Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Nebraska, finished at 15 over and Marty Jertson of Phoenix was 19 over.
The 47-year-old Labritz, who was playing in his sixth PGA Championship, has won three New York State Opens on the Black Course (2008, 2011 and 2016).
Labritz estimates he has played more than 70 rounds at Bethpage Black. He said the wind was the challenge on Sunday.
“Fifteen, 16, 17 and 18 you have some serious wind now,” he said. “It’s swirling and then it blows real hard and stops. Club selection is tough.”
It sure looked like Rich Beem was satisfied just to make the cut at Bethpage Black when he blew up to an 82 in the third round.
But the 48-year-old Beem came back in the final round with a 69 in the first group out, matching the score with which he squeezed into the weekend on Friday.
Beem, the 2002 PGA champion who now plays only in this tournament, didn’t need quite the rally he staged in the second round to get under par. On Friday, he made birdies on five of his last six holes for the 1-under 69. This time, he closed nicely with birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 in a far more steady 69.
Overall, he shot 15-over par with rounds of 75-69-82-69.
Should Beem want to get back into more regular competition – he is ranked 2,057th in the world – he needs to wait two more years to be old enough for the PGA Tour Champions circuit.
Already a multiple major champion, Brooks Koepka is closing in on elite company at the PGA Championship.
Koepka had a seven-shot lead going into the final round Sunday at Bethpage Black, knowing no one had ever lost a lead that large in a major championship. A victory would allow him to join Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as the only players in the last 30 years to have won majors in three consecutive years.
The course had a brief spell of light rain in the morning hours, and there was a small chance of showers for the afternoon.
The PGA Championship moving to May for the first time in 70 years worked out well with pleasant weather and a strong golf course. About the only thing it lacked was drama.
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