So dominant was Brooks Koepka on Thursday in the opening round of the PGA Championship that he boldly referred to the intimidating Bethpage Black course as “fun” after grabbing the clubhouse lead.
It is a fearsome course set up to test the mental strength, shot-making and physical fiber of anyone who steps on to the layout, which this week put an even greater premium on distance given rain-softened conditions.
Defending champion Koepka, who has won three majors in the past two years, passed the test with flying colors as he tied the course record with a seven-under 63 that many had considered improbable when the day began.
“You can’t miss — you can’t take a shot off, and that’s what I love. It reminds me — I think that’s why I play so well at US Opens, this golf course, typical US Open golf course,” Koepka told reporters. “I mean, if you don’t have a good day, you can very easily shoot five, six-over. There’s a fine line between five, six-over and a couple under out here. It’s a fun golf course to play, that’s for sure.”
Of all the adjectives thrown around to describe Bethpage Black in the buildup to the year’s second major, fun was not a word that anyone had the gall to utter, but Koepka, who has used a mix of sheer athleticism, raw power and quiet confidence to dominate the sport, did seem to enjoy his bogey-free trip around a course that got the better of many big-name players.
Koepka wasted little time getting to work as he drained a 40-foot birdie at his opening hole, the par-four 10th.
He grabbed the outright lead with a birdie at the par-four first and pulled away with birdies at the third, fifth and ninth holes, the latter where he drained a 33-foot putt.
“That was one of the best rounds I’ve played probably as a professional,” said Koepka, whose 63 equaled the second-lowest round in any men’s major championship. “This golf course is brutal. If you’re not going to drive it, like I said, it tests every asset of your game. You’ve got to drive the ball straight. It’s long, so you’ve got to hit it far and really position yourself with some of these shots in.”
Taiwan’s Pan Cheng-tsung was tied for 144th place after an eight-over 78.
Additional reporting by staff writer
A feel-good campaign allowing fans to have cardboard cutouts of themselves at Australian rugby league games has been hijacked by pranksters, with a notorious serial killer among those making an appearance — while one TV show edited an image of Adolf Hitler into the crowd. The NRL launched “Fan In The Stand” to coincide with the sport’s return at the weekend after its season was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporters are barred from stadiums under strict health protocols, but can pay A$22 (US$15) to have their photograph printed on a life-size cutout and placed in the stands of
The losing captain thanked the winning team’s players for their personal sacrifices leading into the match and a charter flight pilot received a big round of applause when his plane beat incoming fog to touch down after midnight following another game as feel-good stories off the field matched those on it as the National Rugby League (NRL) restarted its season in Australia over the weekend. The New Zealand Warriors’ 18-0 win over St George Illawarra was the Auckland-based team’s first of the season after three rounds and it could not have come at a better time. Due to international travel restrictions
“Road Runner” Alphonso Davies lived up to his nickname with another lightning sprint on Saturday as Bayern Munich opened a 10-point lead in the Bundesliga. Having defeated second-placed Borussia Dortmund 1-0 away in midweek, Bayern enjoyed a 5-0 romp over Fortuna Duesseldorf. Defender Mathias Joergensen scored an early own-goal before Benjamin Pavard, Robert Lewandowski (2) and Davies scored for Bayern. With five games remaining, the defending champions, who have won their past eight league games, are comfortably on course for an eighth straight league title. Davies scored the best goal of the game when the fleet-footed defender pressed Duesseldorf into making a mistake, barged
Taiwan Steel celebrated a big win over Tatung in the Taiwan Premier League yesterday, while undefeated Taichung Futuro remained at the top of the table, although their lead is only one point. Four of the eight teams were in action, completing matches postponed the previous weekend due to rain, with Taipower and Hang Yuan playing out a scoreless draw in Kaohsiung. Taiwan Steel are sorting out their early-season problems as they chase the leaders and it showed against defending champions Tatung at the Jhubei Stadium in Hsinchu County. Haitian striker Benchy Astama netted a brace and midfielder Kuo Po-wei’s outstanding solo effort sent