Sun, May 19, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Tiger passes golf supremacy to Koepka at historic PGA

AFP, BETHPAGE, New York

Brooks Koepka, left, talks with Tiger Woods after finishing the second round of the PGA Championship on Friday at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York.

Photo: AP

There was not a ceremony and Brooks Koepka said that he needs plenty more major wins to match Tiger Woods, but the aura of golf invincibility has been passed, at least verbally.

It happened at the PGA Championship on Friday after defending champion Koepka fired a five-under-par 65 at Bethpage Black to seize a seven-stroke lead on 12-under 128.

It is the largest 36-hole lead in modern major history and the lowest 36-hole score in major history by two shots.

It is clear that Woods, Koepka’s playing partner the past two days who missed the cut with scores of 72 and 73, sees what happens when a new generation learns from his legend.

“At 29 he has got many more years ahead of him where he can do this,” Woods said. “He paid his dues. He found a game and a dedication that he needed to play well and he’s doing that.”

Woods edged Koepka by a stroke last month to win the Masters, ending an 11-year major win drought for his 15th career major title. He won the first 14 with big 54-hole leads and sees Koepka able to do the same now.

“He’s driving it 330 yards in the middle of the fairway. He’s got nine-irons when most of us are hitting five-irons, four-irons, and he’s putting well,” Woods said.

Woods could see himself in Koepka.

“Relative to the field, I was about that long early in my career, when you’re able to hit the ball much further than other players,” Woods said. “I was never that big. I was 130 pounds [59kg], but we’re both able to generate speed. I didn’t have muscle. I did it through whip and timing.”

“Brooksy has just got pure power and he’s an athlete. He played other sports and he could have easily been a baseball player. Players like that who come to golf generally hit the ball far,” he added.

Koepka dismisses the hurry to anoint him as the new Tiger, even as he admited he has a great chance to win his fourth major in his past eight starts today.

“I’ve got 11 more to go or 12 more to go before that happens,” Koepka said.

He shot the lowest round by any Woods playing partner in a major since Woods turned professional in 1996.

“You have to bring your game when you’re with him,” Koepka said, adding that it was not even a great day, lamenting two bogeys.

Asked about how he blasted out of tall weeds, Koepka said: “That’s why I go to the gym.”

Asked about his putting, Koepka said: “I feel as comfortable as I’ve ever felt putting this week. I feel every time I even slide the putter right behind the ball it’s lined up perfectly.”

He admitted he learned by playing alongside Woods not to watch him as he had on television as a child.

“All I did was watch him for nine holes. That’s what I grew up doing,” Koepka said. “And you can’t do that. You’ve got to focus on your own game.”

It is clear Koepka has learned from Woods when you have a lead to keep going.

“I’d like to see that lead grow as large as it possibly can,” Koepka said. “I still have to go out there and do what I’m supposed to do, keep putting the ball in the right spot.”

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