A Look Back at Brooks Koepka’s Amazing Period of Dominance
When you think of golf’s greatest players, Brooks Koepka is often forgotten. Depending on which generation one was brought up in, you may prefer the likes of Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods. Of modern times, Rory McIlroy is the one who stands head and shoulders above the rest, despite not picking up a major victory in almost nine years.
From 2017 to 2019, Koepka was a force on the golf course. He picked up an abundance of trophies, as well as spent almost an entire year, 47 weeks to be exact, at world number one. The key to his success was his conservatism. Let us put it this way: if he was to play poker online, he would only make the decision to call when he had two high cards in his hands.
In recent years, Koepka has turned his attention to the money-spinning Saudi-backed LIV Golf League. He, as well as a number of high-profile golfers such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, and last year’s Open Championship winner Cameron Smith, have all signed up for the league throughout the last 12 months. The plethora of departures from the PGA Tour has caused somewhat of a civil war in the golfing world, but that doesn’t make Koepka’s abundance of achievements any less impressive.
38-Week Stint at World Number One
In 2018, Koepka became the first golfer since fellow American Dustin Johnson to stay atop the rankings for 38 consecutive weeks. He rose through the rankings when he first tasted major success at the 2017 US Open. The following year he would defend his crown, as well as pick up another major, the PGA Championship, just two months later.
He had a number of smaller stints at world number one, but his second consecutive PGA Championship in 2019 would see him secure the top spot in the world rankings. And he would remain at the summit of professional golf’s mountaintop for a whopping 38 weeks. Back-to-back second places at the 2019 US Open and the 2019 Masters would consolidate his position as the finest player in the game,
His reign came to an end following the aforementioned knee injury he suffered in late 2019, and he was eventually overtaken by Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman would spend 11 weeks at number one and take his cumulative total of weeks spent at number one to over 100. Following that, a game of hot potato began, with the top spot changing hands between a number of players in rapid succession.
Back-to-Back US Open Wins
After winning his first major title at the 2017 US Open, Koepka made history by becoming just the seventh player to win multiple US Opens in consecutive years when he triumphed again the following year. No one had successfully defended the trophy in thirty years when American Curtis Strange managed to achieve the feat.
His performance in 2018 was truly remarkable. He didn’t lead the competition at any point and it was only on championship Sunday when the victory looked possible. Compatriot Dustin Johnson would take a four-stroke lead on day two, and it looked like his tournament to lose, and that’s exactly what he did when he shot a seven-over-par on day three, opening the door for the rest of the field.
As the tournament entered the final day, Koepka was in a four-way tie for the lead on four over par. While everyone around him capitulated, the reigning champion managed to keep his cool. He shot a final day one under par to seal the victory, with Englishman Tommy Fleetwood a stroke further back following a final day 63.
Back-to-Back PGA Championships Wins
If back-to-back US Opens weren’t enough, Koepka would go on to successfully claim consecutive PGA Championships as well. His second success in 2019 made him the first golfer in history to hold back-to-back titles in two different majors simultaneously and would cement his legacy as one of the finest golfers of his generation.
In 2018 two weeks on from his second consecutive US Open triumph, Keopka would head to Bellerive Country Club full of confidence. He shot a modest one under par on day one, but it was on day two that the two-time US Open winner truly stood out from the crowd. He would shoot a stunning 63 to fire him into third place, and once he had his eye in, he would never look back.
Back-to-back 66s on days three and four were enough to secure the victory, fending off all-time great Tiger Woods by just two strokes to seal the crown.
The following year, he would return and successfully defend the trophy, becoming the first man to do so since the aforementioned Tiger some 12 years prior. He headed into Championship Sunday with a whopping seven-shot lead. A calamitous final day would see him shoot four over par, but he had built up enough of a lead to secure the victory, with runner-up Dustin Johnson finishing two strokes back.