So close for Norman as Koepka hangs on
BROOKS Koepka was two strokes away from replacing Aussie Greg Norman as the greatest choker in sport.
Instead, the sporting world has discovered a new fairytale champion as the American star pulled out of his scary free-fall in Monday morning's final round at the US PGA Championship at New York's tough Bethpage Black to defend his major championship and snatch the No. 1 ranking.
The victory brings him (USD) $1.98 million in winnings. The golfer has a net worth of about (USD) $14 million.
The win, Koepka's fourth major in two years, also consigns Norman back to the annals of history as golf's greatest choker.
Just for a moment as the wind swirled around Bethpage Black and Dustin Johnson closed to within one stroke on the back nine, Koepka flirted with replacing the Shark in the history books of choking.
Koepka endured a horror final round with a four-over par 74, but it was still enough for him to keep Johnson at bay to win by two strokes.
Ousted world No. 1 Johnson made it interesting as he closed with a 69 to finish second at six under, while Jordan Spieth (71), Patrick Cantlay (71) and Matt Wallace (72) shared third at two under.
Koepka began the final round with a seven-shot lead, the largest 54-hole cushion in PGA Championship history and a margin no player had ever relinquished after three rounds on the US PGA Tour.
But Koepka appeared to be on course for the biggest choke ever recorded at the majors when his lead was cut significantly by a barnstorming Johnson.
As Koepka bogeyed the par-3 14th and Johnson had birdied the 15th, Johnson came within one shot of his fellow long-hitter.
Just like that, Norman's demons were back.
Norman is the only player in major history to surrender a six-stroke lead heading into the final day - Koepka very nearly dropped seven.
He was choking, Johnson was firing. Norman must have smelled a chance to finally relinquish the unfortunate crown he has worn ever since the 1996 Masters.
Incredibly, it was revealed by Golf.com on Sunday that Norman had sent the website a text on the day of Koepka's third round, inadvertently putting a mocker on the front-runner.
"I loved the way he played through Tiger (Woods)," Norman reportedly wrote in a message.
"Nothing fazes him and I believe TW was a bit taken back because he could not keep pace.
"I hope [Koepka] wins by 15, to be honest," Norman wrote.
"Love the way he is so low-key, yet a killer, with not let-off."
The next day Koepka's history-making run at the PGA Championship almost turned to dust.
He needed a bogey or better on the 18th hole - and he found the calmness he needed right when it mattered most.
Despite finding a horrible lie on the lip of a fairway bunker on the 18th, Koepka salvaged a miraculous par and has now won four of the past six majors played on US soil.
No player has achieved that feat since Tiger Woods between his historic run between 1999 and 2001.
He joins Woods as the only golfers to win the PGA in back-to-back years since the tournament went to stroke play in 1958. Koepka has also won back-to-back US Opens.
"I'm just glad we didn't have to play any more holes. That was a stressful round of golf," Koepka said on the 18th green.
"I'm still in shock. I don't know if I dreamed of this but this is so cool."
Six-time major winner Nick Faldo was astonished at Koepka's dominance, becoming the first male in golfing history to win his first four major titles in less than two years.
"Winning four majors out of eight he's played ... 50 per cent? That for me is dominance. Some seriously unbelievable dominance," Faldo said.
The entire golfing world was blown away by Koepka's four days of excellence.
Meanwhile, Adam Scott's 74 sank him to one over but he still earned a share of eighth.
Fellow Australian Jason Day, the 2015 PGA champion, closed with a 72 to drop to four over and tied for 23rd.
Cameron Smith's 74 gave him an 11-over total and Lucas Herbert (75) finished a stroke further behind.
- with AAP