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Koepka Claims Fifth Major Title | Sunday Swing

Koepka Claims Fifth Major Title | Sunday Swing

Koepka Claims Fifth Major Title | Sunday Swing

May 22, 2023

Welcome back to the Sunday Swing presented by 2nd Swing Golf. This week in the world of professional golf, all eyes were on Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York for the 105th playing of the PGA Championship. 

PGA Championship - Tournament History 

Dating all the way back to the height of World War 1 in 1916, the PGA Championship is one of the four mens majors held annually. This is the only major of the four that does not invite the world’s top amateurs to compete. Instead, the top 20 finishers at the PGA Professional Championship round out the total field of 156 players. 

The PGA Championship has so much history and has been held at so many iconic venues including Southern Hills, Oak Hill, Hazeltine National, and Whistling Straits – just to name a few. Some of the all time greats of the game have hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy multiple times, but only two have held it five times: Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen. Following closely behind them with four is another familiar name – Tiger Woods. Before this week, Nicklaus and Woods were the only two players to win at least three PGA Championships since the event switched to a stroke play format in 1958 -- but another player joined them by the end of this year's tournament.

This week, Oak Hill Country Club shined as the host site of the 105th PGA Championship. Despite a plethora of challenging weather conditions that hit the area throughout the week, the course remained a stern test demanding excellence in each phase of the game – and the result was a thrilling championship to watch.

The Big Swing

This week the Big Swing goes to Brooks Koepka. “Big Bad Brooks” is back on top of another major championship leaderboard. From 2017 to 2019, Koepka was a consisten force to be reckoned with at the majors, winning four of them and posing a threat in nearly all of the others in that time span. However, as revealed on Netflix's "Full Swing" earlier this year, injuries, surgies, and self-doubts paused Koepka's major title chase.


It's safe to say the chase is back on in 2023. After losing a two-stroke lead to Jon Rahm on Sunday at Augusta this April, admittedly because he played too conservatively, Koepka promised he would not make the same mistake again.

On Thursday, Koepka looked rusty but managed to salvage a two-over par 72 on a challening Oak Hill layout. Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 U.S. Open winner, led the tournament after an impressive opening round 66. Some other notable names that were in the mix included Scottie Scheffler (67), Dustin Johnson (67), Viktor Hovland (68), and Adam Scott (68).


Koepka found another gear in the second round, surging on the back nine to come home in 31 and shoot a 66 of his own, pitting him at -2 for the championship and right in the thick of it at another major. Scheffler and Hovland each played stellar rounds Friday as well, both logging rounds of 67 and 68 in the first two rounds to hold a share of the 36-hole lead at -5 with recent winner Corey Conners.


Perhaps the most surprising performance after two rounds was PGA teaching professional Michael Block. The 46-year-old qualifed as one of the Top 20 finishers in the PGA Professional Championship and posted back-to-back 70s to sit just five back. 

Saturday's third round was highlighted by rain that persisted for most of the day, making the course play even more difficult. The heavy rough had been causing issues for the players all week but once moisture was added, it caused even more issues. A missed fairway was almost a sure bogey -- or at the very least, a grind to make par. In a true U.S. Open type round, it was Koepka who separated himself from the pack by shooting another 66, including a flawless back nine 32, to take the lead by himself at -6.


DeChambeau managed an even par 70 and was only a couple shots behind heading into the final round. The next biggest threat was the Norwegian ball-striking machine Hovland. Hovland has now had a share of the lead in three consecutive major championships thanks to his exquisite ball striking and pin-point accuracy. After a third-round 70, Hovland found himself one shot back and in the final pairing with Koepka on Sunday. Meanwhile, Scheffler stumbled to shoot a 73, shifting him into chase mode for Sunday's final round.

As the final round got underway, the conditions created much easier scoring conditions than the previous three rounds. Prior to Sunday, nobody had shot lower than 66 in the field during the week. But five players were able to shoot 65 on Sunday, indicating that course was gettable.


Koepka, following up on his promise of not playing too conservative with the lead in a major, fired at flags early and it paid off. He made birdies on Nos. 2, 3, and 4 to extend his lead. Hovland answered back with birdies of his own at 4 and 5. At the turn, Koepka clung to his one-shot lead at 7-under with Hovland just one shot back at -6 and Scheffler lurking at -4. The leaderboard stayed roughly the same throughout the back nine -- Koepka leading Hovland by a shot or two with Scheffler within striking distance in third. But at the 16th hole, everything changed -- and the tournament was virtually decided two holes early.


Trailing by one, Hovland's tee shot found the right fairway bunker. As Hovland struck his approach shot, the ball did not get above the lip of the bunker -- instead, the ball embedded in the deep Oak Hill rough, forcing Hovland to take a penalty for an unplayable lie. Conners succumbed to the same fate during Saturday's third round, dropping him out of the lead for good. In Hovland's case, the double bogey removed him from contention. Koepka, meanwhile, muscled his approach shot from the rough to within six feet, which he knocked in for birdie to move ahead by four shots.


Up ahead of the final groups, the loudest roar of the tournament was generated by Block -- yes, the club pro who had shot 70 in the first two rounds. Block shot another 70 on Saturday and was paired with Rory McIlroy for the final round. Block, struggling to score throughout the final round, had fallen just outside the top 15 on the leaderboard -- and the top 15 secure a spot in next year's PGA Championship. Block quickly corrected this when his 7-iron at the par-3 15th hole found the bottom of the cup in “slam-dunk” fashion, sending an explosion of noise across the property. Block shared the surreal moment with McIlroy and proceeded to make a seemingly impossible up and down par on the 72nd hole to finish in the perfect spot in a tie for 15th.


After striping one final drive, Koepka walked up the 18th with a comfortable lead ready to hoist the Wanamaker for a third time. In the end he would win by two shots over Scheffler and Hovland, and cap off an impressive three-round stretch of 66, 66, 67 to claim his fifth major win. Koepka joins the likes of Seve Ballesteros and Byron Nelson with five major titles, and joins Gene Serazen and Sam Snead with three PGA Championships. Perhaps more significantly, he joins Nicklaus and Woods as the only players to win three PGA Championships in the stroke play era (since 1958).

Winner’s Bag -- Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka has spent most of his career as an equipment free agent. However, last summer he made the jump to Srixon -- a decision that has quickly paid off. In his two major starts this season, Koepka has only lost to one player -- and it happens to be the No. 1 ranked player in the world. En route to his win at the PGA Championship over the weekend, Koepka ranked inside the top 15 in every major statistical category. While most of the five-time major winner's bag is Srixon, there's a couple of older models that have stood the test of time. Off the tee, Koepka plays the new Srixon ZX5 LS MK2 Driver (10.5 degrees). His fairway wood (a TaylorMade M2 Tour HL at 16.5 degrees) and his 3-iron (Nike Vapor Fly Pro) have each been in the bag for all five of his major wins dating back to 2017. His full set of irons are the new Srixon ZX7 MK IIs (4-9 iron). Brooks also has a set of four Cleveland RTX ZipCore Tour Rack wedges (46, 52, 56, and 60 degrees). On the greens, Koepka still rolls his Scotty Cameron Teryllium TNP2