Weekly Recap: Brooks Books Another Major

Weekly Recap: Brooks Books Another Major

This article is part of our Weekly Recap series.

In the span of one month, Brooks Koepka has gone from a golfer whose greatest days appeared to be in the past to maybe the best of his generation, with a future that suddenly could include more historical ladders to climb.

Koepka won a career-altering fifth major championship on Sunday at the 105th PGA Championship, a two-stroke victory over Viktor Hovland and Scottie Scheffler at venerable Oak Hill Country Club that really was not that close. With three birdies in the first four holes, at no point on Sunday did Koepka lose control of the lead -- or the tournament.

The 33-year-old LIV golfer now has won three PGAs – a milestone in its own right – and two U.S. Opens. The victory came a month after Koepka arrived at the Masters having not won a major in four years thanks in large part to a debilitating series of knee injuries. During the Netflix documentary "Full Swing" a few months back, he sounded defeated. He said he left for LIV and its haul of cash at least in part because he didn't know how much game he had left.

But Koepka finished second to Jon Rahm at Augusta National and, it was quite apparent, he was quite healthy -- knee and psyche.

Koepka's fifth major moves him past Rory McIlroy and into a tie for 20th all-time with the likes of Byron Nelson, Seve Ballesteros and Peter Thomson. With six, there are Lee Trevino, Phil Mickelson and Nick Faldo. Koepka could join them as soon as three weeks when he shoots for his third U.S. Open title.

At seven, you are truly getting into rarified air: Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen and Harry Vardon. But that's for another day, or at least not until July's Open Championship.

Koepka also joined five players with at least three PGAs, only two of which did so during the tournament's stroke-play era. Those two players would be Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

It was during a 23-month span from 2017-19 that Koepka won his first four majors, He was then injured a month before the 2021 Masters. We didn't knew at the time how serious Koepka's knee injury was. Rehabbing a dislocated right knee, he shattered his kneecap and a ruptured ligament after a fall. There were fits and starts as he tried to come back. Last year, he missed two major cuts and tied for 55th in the other two. He was shell of the man who personified Alpha Golfer.

Koepka is clearly better, and alpha once more. He won a LIV Golf tournament in Florida in January, signaling a change. 

At Oak Hill, Koepka ranked eighth in the field in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, fifth in Approach, fourth in Around-the-Green, second in Tee-to-Green and 13th in Putting. Also: zero three putts, zero double bogeys. That compilation of stats could win someone numerous majors. Koepka is back up to 13th in the world, almost all of it on the strength f the two 2023 majors.

Finally, LIV Golf and its supporters will view this as much more than it is. Don't conflate this monumental career achievement for Koepka as a referendum on LIV. This will have no bearing on LIV's demand that tis golfers be allowed to play on the PGA Tour or should get OWGR points.

"I definitely think it helps LIV but I'm more interested in my own self right now, to be honest with you," Koepka told reporters at Oak Hill.

However, there appears to be a growing movement to include Koepka on the U.S. Ryder Cup team this fall. He's currently second in the standings but could in theory be barred from competing. Wanting to defeat at all costs a European team that has repeatedly had its number in recent Cups, the U.S. team and captain Zach Johnson want to win more than anything.

Sort of like Koepka in majors.


Michael Block
Let's start the Monday Backspin here, even though Block was not the runner-up, because he clearly was the No. 2 story of the week behind Koepka. A club pro making the cut is not unheard of, but it doesn't happen every year and didn't last year. Block was the only one this year, and he tied for 15th, which not only earned him a return invite to Valhalla next year, but the Charles Schwab people called after the round and invited him to play Colonial this week. And then the Canadian Open called for the second week in June. Not too shabby. The 46-year-old pro at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Calif., hit the shot of the tournament when he aced the 15th hole, then had the up-and-down of the week on 18 when anything less would've cost him that top-15. Block had played in four prior PGAs, two U.S. Opens and both the 2023 Amex and Farmers and missed every single cut. Some final notes on Block: He ranked sixth in the field in SG: Putting; he made what is believed to be the biggest one-week jump in OWGR history, from No. 3,580 to No. 577; and, lastly, while we don't normally report on earnings, he took home $288,333, which far and away is the most he's ever won at a golf tournament.

Scottie Scheffler
Scheffler was the actual runner-up, sharing honors with Hovland. He was close all weekend, but just couldn't make a real run, notably because he ranked only 34th in SG: Putting. In every other SG stat he was top 8. Scheffler will console himself with regaining the No. 1 ranking in the world from Rahm, a position he can solidify this week when he plays at Colonial while Rahm doesn't.

Viktor Hovland
The days of knocking Hovland because of his woeful short game are now over. He ranked 10th in the field in SG: Approach and sixth in scrambling. He also led the field in SG: Approach and was 25th in Putting. He probably would not have caught Koepka even if his fairway bunker shot on No. 16 hadn't plugged in the grassy bank of the bunker, resulting in an unplayable lie and double bogey, but it would've made the finish more intense. The 25-year-old has now finished T4, T7 and T2 at the past three majors. He was our preseason pick to win the Open Championship. We might've have waited too long. The U.S. Open starts in three weeks.

Bryson DeChambeau
DeChambeau, so much thinner, so much more likeable, still hitting it farther than anyone. He gave LIV Golf a second top-5 with his tie for fourth. DeChambeau led the field in driving distance and SG: Off-the-Tee and was second in greens in regulation. But he ranked 58th in SG: Around-the-Green. If can just clean that up a little bit, he'll be a force again at the U.S. Open.

Cam Davis
Davis shared fourth place, far and away his best major ever. (He had played only four previously, with a best of T39.) It moved Davis inside the top-50 for the first time (49th) and therefore he is in the U.S. Open in three weeks. The top-60 OWGR after the PGA Championship get in. Davis has not had a great season, so it would be premature to suggest this will be a launching pad for him. But it was a magical week, one in which he finished in the top-7 in every SG stat except putting (63rd).

Kurt Kitayama
Kitayama had that huge win at Bay Hill a couple of months back. But his major record had been pretty bad. He had made only three of nine cuts with never a top-50 cash. Tying for fourth would classify as a significant improvement. Kitayama is a great driver of the golf ball, so it stands to reason he can do damage at PGAs and U.S. Opens. We shall see next month at the Open at Los Angeles Country Club.

Rory McIlroy
So close? Sure, a tie for seventh. But so far? That, too. McIlroy danced on the periphery of contending but couldn't get over the hump. While nothing short of a win is acceptable to him, to play this well so soon after intimating that he was mentally exhausted is a good sign going forward. But he'll have to clean up his play from 100 yards and in: He ranked 41st in SG: Around-the-Green, 30th in Putting.

Sepp Straka
It's remarkable how badly Straka had been playing in 2023: five missed cuts in 12 starts with one top-10 – and that came at the Honda, where he was the defending champion. Naturally, he tied for seventh at Oak Hill. This sounds more like one good week than the start of a turnaround.

Justin Rose
Rose had a disappointing Sunday, which began with him in fifth place, but he still wound up tied for ninth. It continues a great trend at the PGA and majors in general. He was 9-T8-T13 in his three previous PGAs. Rose now has 20 career top-10s in majors and 42 top-25s.

Cameron Smith
Smith came out of nowhere with a Sunday 65 to tie for ninth. He led the field in SG: Putting. So even though he had not been great on LIV till a playoff loss to Dustin Johnson last time out and had a subpar Masters, he still is eminently dangerous.

Patrick Cantlay
Cantlay tied for ninth but like Smith, and unlike Rose, he never contended. The box score will show a fourth straight top-15 in majors, which is surely good. He was outstanding with his driver and long irons at Oak Hill. But until he shores up the rest of his game – 54th in SG: Around-the-Green and 43rd in Putting – he won't be able to get much closer.

Corey Conners
A brilliant Saturday did not carry over to Sunday, and Conners ended up tied for 12th. Incredibly, on Sunday he ranked 70th in the field in SG: Off-the-Tee and 75th in greens in regulation – out of 76 guys. On the other hand, his putting was outstanding, ranking ninth in the field on the entire week.

Victor Perez
The Frenchman, with a woeful majors resume, tied for 12th. That moved him from 66th OWGR to 59th, getting him into next month's U.S. Open.

Patrick Reed
Say what you will about reed, but he shows up in majors and his lack of length does not stand in his way. He ranked third in the field in SG: Putting and 22nd Around-the-Green to tie for 18th.

Jordan Spieth
Spieth played through his wrist injury. It did not seem to hinder him. He got better every day, going 73-72-71-69 to tie for 29th. The PGA remains all that stands between Spieth and the career grand slam. You would think an uber-long course would be his kryptonite, but he ranked seventh in the field in driving distance and second in SG: Off-the-Tee. Conversely, he was 74th in Around-the-Green and 62nd in Putting. What has happened to the real Spieth?

Dustin Johnson
Johnson opened with a 67 and he appeared to be in his element. But a trio of 74s the rest of the way landed him in a tie for 55th. Johnson will be 39 in a month, though he's still capable of remarkable athletic achievements. But across four days? Remember, his game was starting to slide even before he left for LIV last year.

Phil Mickelson
Mickelson made the cut on the number and wound up tied for 58th. That's an accomplishment for someone about to turn 53. Anyone expecting a repeat of the Masters, well, that was not going to happen. Mickelson could play Augusta National blindfolded, but there aren't many courses where he can still compete. Mickelson ranked in the top-50 in the field in just one SG stat: He was 34th in Around-the-Green.

Eric Cole
Cole's breakthrough 2023 continued. He tied for 15th to move to the edge of cracking the top-100 in the world (he's 103rd) and also earned a return trip to next year's PGA for finishing in the top-15.


There was a boatload of big names here: Matt Fitzpatrick, Sam Burns, Sungjae Im, Tom Kim, Cameron Young, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Rickie Fowler, Billy Horschel, Gary Woodland, Talor Gooch and Joaquin Niemann. … Burns continues to underperform in majors in relation to his regular tournament success. … Im flew to Korea last week for a tournament so who could see this coming? … Kim continues a subpar sophomore season, which is not unheard of. … This course should've been in Young's wheelhouse; a very disappointing week for him. … Day was coming off his first win in five years and chose not to play the course in practice. Bad move. … Fowler had been playing so well all year, and this was a chance for him to really showcase himself on a large state. … After Gooch won two LIV tournaments in a row recently, there was talk how he's maybe among the game's elite. No, he's not ready for prime time. … And Niemann, this was a big surprise but likely just an aberration.

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Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years. He was named 2020 "DFS Writer of the Year" by the FSWA and was nominated for the same award in 2019.
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