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GolfWRX Morning Drive: Cam Champ’s crazy fitting | Even more rules-related drama | A pro-am with Bryson

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1 Because HE needed more distance…
Golfweek’s David Dusek with an interesting report on the young rocket launcher Cameron Champ’s fitting following his now famous cracked driver head.
  • “On Monday before the Shiners Hospitals for Children Open, {Christian Pena, Ping’s PGA Tour manager] built Champ a new gamer driver using the same components as in the driver that broke. However, Champ said he wanted to make the same swing but launch the ball slightly higher. To do that, Pena would need to add loft, which would also increase spin and reduce distance. Instead, Pena made some drivers with counterbalanced shafts that allowed him to make Champ a head with a heaver back weight. That increased the dynamic loft at impact.”
  • “Champ’s typical drive had been launching at 7 degrees with about 2,700 rpm of backspin, creating a carry distance of about 325 yards. Using the new shaft in his G400 Max, a prototype Accra TZT 265 M5, he started hitting the ball even farther.”
  • “The first he hit launched at 9 degrees, carried 15 yards farther and the ball speed was almost 198 mph,” Pena said, laughing. “We looked at each other and said to ourselves, ‘What the heck did we just do?'”
2. Rough stuff for Lumpy
Tim Herron is dealing with the onset of Dupuytren’s contracture.
PGATour.com’s Helen Ross explains…”Dupuytren’s, which is sometimes called the Viking Disease because it’s most common among people of Nordic descent, causes a gradual tightening of the tissue-like cords under the skin in the hand. As it progresses, fingers – most commonly the pinkie and ring finger – are drawn in toward the palm.”
  • “Herron’s father and younger sister both have Dupuytren’s. Treatment, when needed, can involve injections or using a needle to break the tissue that is keeping the fingers drawn. Surgery is another option.”
  • Herron isn’t there, yet. But the four-time PGA TOUR winner is watching how the disease progresses.
  • “About seven years ago I saw that I was starting to get nodules in my hand —  things that kind of pop up,” he says. “And I noticed in the palm of my hand that I was starting to get a firmness in the cord.
  • “The cord is the thing that hardens and actually holds your fingers down towards your palm. My fingers have not gone towards my palm yet, but I do have a lot of lumps and bumps on the palm of my hand.”
3. Rough Rules stuff
I mean, the rules are the rules, but…
Via Golf Monthly...”European Tour hopeful Gian-Marco Petrozzi lost out on a potential place in Q-School Final Stage due to a rare rules infraction….The Englishman received a two stroke penalty on his last hole which ultimately cost him the chance of a playoff for an alternate spot.”
“He was playing his final hole and had to hit a shot over a bunker and walked through the bunker to pace his yardage and then raked his footprints in the sand…That ultimately cost him two strokes for improving his line of of play, something covered in Rule 13-2.”
“After making a hole in one and finishing with 5 birdies in the last 6 to shoot 65 and make a play off for an alternate spot I signed my card then 20 minutes later found I was given a 2 shot penalty on the last hole for pacing out a yardage walking through a bunker then raking the footprints before walking back and hitting my shot over the bunker and onto the green.”
4. A pro-am with Bryson…
Can you imagine what it’s like to in one of pro golf’s unique pre-tournament 5-hour spectacles?
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall talks with a few of the men who teed it up with golf’s mad scientist.
  • “Bryson gave us a big warm greeting and was opposite of aloof,” said George Kaelin, an attorney and former owner of Full Swing Golf. “He remained engaging and interested in us. There was a ton of trash taking that was surprising. He told me he wasn’t use to giving reads to a guy who had side spin on putt.”
  • That outlooked was seconded by Ramsey.
  • “Upon meeting Bryson, I knew that there was a gap in the public perception of Bryson and the real Bryson,” Ramsay said. “He was very warm, fun, and easy to engage with. I was clearly the worst golfer of our foursome, and he took time to help me with my swing. He said, ‘It’s all about your radius, so I want you to show me you can hit behind the ball.’ When I did that, he remarked that he could see that I had ‘radius control’ so he taught me to tap the ground in front of the ball before every swing; I now do this every time as I feel it helps me create the right radius.
5. Exemptor Kaymer
Via Golf Digest…”While winning the U.S. Open bestows a five-year PGA Tour exemption, Martin Kaymer, winner of the 2014 championship at Pinehurst, lost his member status for 2016 due to appearing in just 13 events the prior season.”
  • “Gaining full eligibility to play on both tours-the PGA Tour and the European Tour-is a challenge,” Kaymer said at the time. “When coordinating my 2014-15 schedule I was forced to plan with a certain degree of risk.”
  • “Although he regained his card, it appeared Kaymer was facing a similar fate for 2019, as the 33-year-old made just 11 starts on tour this year. However, according to Kaymer, the tour has granted him a reprieve.”
6. Suzy Whaley
Helen Ross, again, with an appreciation of Suzy Whaley…
  • A morsel…”Whaley was just getting hooked on golf in Syracuse, New York, and she was good enough to compete in tournaments when her name was scratched off the entry list of a junior tournament for boys because she was a girl.”
  • “‘And now I’ve played in a PGA Tour event,” said Whaley, who at the 2003 Greater Hartford Open became the first woman in 58 years to qualify for a PGA Tour event. “Look how far we’ve gone. It’s not where we need to be, but we’re making progress. And that makes me smile.”
7. An ode to winter golf
Excellent stuff from Wes Valentine over at Fansided…
  • A morsel…”Can a person make a fluid, loose swing with four layers on? No, not really. If anything, November golf is the great handicap manager. Everyone loses significant distance and course conditions make every lie an crap shoot. In winter golf, nothing is taken for granted.
  • Like to take a big divot? Go ahead and schedule that rotator cuff surgery now. If you are a sweeper, prepare your hands for a high-voltage electric shock should you catch one thin. Sticking a divot repair tool into a socket is less jolting.”
  • “Throw in a wind that makes the eyes and nose water and it all adds up to a seemingly miserable experience….Yet there you are; hands wrapped around a warm styrofoam cup, a knit cap pulled snuggly over the ears, in righteous awe of a deserted course.
  • “And then there are your playing partners; your fellow frozen travelers. Like the crew of Admiral Byrd’s Expedition, you all plod along the tundra not because you like it, but because there is no other choice for the adventurous soul. It is in your blood. It is undeniable. This is what the truly devoted do.”
8. Further OWGR dragging
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall rightly points out the OWGR’s credibility has suffered this year and the critical djinn is growing.
  • “Complaints about the OWGR have been regular since its introduction in 1986, it’s byzantine formula and bias against certain tours leading to faux pas like the example above, or when Jordan Spieth grabbed the reins after a missed cut in 2015. But this season has especially highlighted the OWGR’s fickle nature. Since the Players Championship in May, the No. 1 ranking has changed six times between four players-Dustin Johnson to Justin Thomas, back to DJ, to Justin Rose, back to DJ, to Brooks Koepka, back to Rose (until next week when Koepka then marks switch No. 7).”
  • “In one regard, that fluctuation is understandable. Golf’s upper echelon is lush with firepower and a compelling argument can be made for a number of players as the current big kahuna. It should also be acknowledged that building a system to identify the best in this sport is not easy. In that same breath, to see the ranking kicked around like a hacky sack-particularly on the part of the calendar when, to all but the zealots, the season is over-siphons whatever juice is supposed to be inherent to the No. 1 honor.”
Beall offers a few thoughts on fixing a broken system. Full piece.
9. McIlroy sells
In today’s edition of “PGA Tour pro Real Estate Transactions”….Rory McIlroy has sold his 10,000-plus-square-foot Palm Beach Gardens abode for $11.5 million. He purchased the pad for $11.75 million in 2012.
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Morning 9: How many majors will Koepka win? | Getting to know BK’s caddie | eSports comes to the European Tour

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

May 21, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Koepka’s coach speaks
Coming fresh off the celebration of Brooks Koepka’s fourth major win, Koepka’s long-time coach, Claude Harmon III chatted with Johnny Wunder as he was just about to hop on a plane back to The Floridian.
A bit of their conversation…
  • JW: Brooks is walking off the 18th green after another major triumph. What is the first thing you guys said to each other?
  • CH3: Well, obviously there was a lot of emotion in that moment, but he told me it was the happiest he has ever been on the golf course, and after everything he’s done, that’s a big statement.
  • For him to put in all the hard work and to fight as hard as he did on a golf course that completely changed on the last day and come out on top makes me extremely grateful to be a part of the team that supports that. I believe he will find out more about himself from getting through the final nine holes than he would if he would have had a parade coming in and won by seven.
  • JW: That’s a great point. It seems like he is more apt to win even more majors based on that back nine than he would have otherwise.
  • CH3: I don’t think if you were watching it on TV you could have any appreciation for just how difficult it was. What DJ did yesterday was impossible and having that up ahead applies even more pressure to a leader. Ricky Elliott and BK are looking at the scoreboard and seeing DJ and 3 under and having no idea how that’s even possible. It was that tough.
  • JW: I think Brooks stubbornness is part of his true greatness. Would you agree?
  • CH3: His perspective constantly was “I’m still in the lead and someone is going to have to catch me and this golf course is extremely difficult.” Even after all the bogeys on the back side, he still controlled the lead and kept that mantra. The crowd yelling “DJ! DJ!” actually didn’t piss him off, it woke him up and made him want to hit a good drive and show the crowd he was still leading.

2. Welcome to Brough Creek National!

Our Peter Schmitt spoke with the founders of the (in-progress) backyard golf course that has taken Instagram by storm…
  • “Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted a golf course in your backyard.”
  • “Of course you have.”
  • “Now leave your hand raised if you actually rolled up your sleeves and made it happen.”
  • “Among the very few people left with their hands in the air are Ben Hotaling, Zach Brough, Evan Bissell, and Mark Robinson, the driving force behind Brough Creek National. That’s right. These guys are building a golf course in their backyard. From scratch.”
  • “The true beginnings of golf aren’t well-documented, but one thing’s for sure: people were playing golf at least 400 years before the first working internal combustion engine. Long before golf course architecture was a multi-million dollar investment before the first dime of revenue trickled in, courses were laid down largely by hand using the natural movement of the land. In that same spirit, Ben happened to notice that there was one particular shot in their backyard that reminded him of the Road Hole at St. Andrews, as it plays over their barn and to a green situated right in front of the road to the property.”
3. How many majors does BK win?
ESPN’s panel of golf experts (and Michael Collins–just kidding…love you, Michael) discusses this subject (and others)
  • “Bob Harig: Seven. He is making it look easy right now, but we all know that it is not. Rory McIlroy seemed destined for double-digit majors five years ago and is stuck on four. Jordan Spieth, same thing. It’s hard to win them, and while he’s got a great formula, stuff happens. And let’s say he does get seven. That is still phenomenal.”
  • “Michael Collins: Twelve … if he stays healthy. I think his philosophy on how to approach tournaments is working pretty damn well so far. Why would he change anything? Let’s say he has 10 more “solid” years — that’s 40 major chances. What has he shown that would make you believe he can’t go 8-for-40?”
  • “Ian O’Connor: I love the fact that Koepka is gunning for 10 or more and, according to his former college coach, gunning for Tiger’s 15 and Jack’s 18. But since his great uncle Dick Groat was buddies with another slugger with blacksmith arms, Arnold Palmer, I’ll give Brooks Arnie’s seven.”
4. Get used to it
….as though you weren’t already.
Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union Tribune…
  • “If there was something we learned from Brooks Koepka’s dominating and then nerve-jangling victory in the PGA Championship on Sunday, it is to step back, put away our biases, and appreciate the history we are seeing.”
  • “Koepka is never going to be as eloquent in sharing his thoughts at Rory McIlroy. He doesn’t possess Jason Day’s all-out candor, or Jordan Spieth’s entertaining nervous chatter.”
  • “Koepka is never going to smile just because we want him to. It seems that only looking into his reflection in a trophy can do that.”
  • “Yet, the man, still a golfing pup who only turned 29 this month, is evolving in the public eye while becoming one of the game’s most intriguing characters.”
  • “We could all do a better job of recognizing that.”
5. Ricky!
An excellent portrait of Brooks Koepka’s caddie, Northern Irishman Ricky Elliott, in this BBC report…
  • “Elliott was a good golfer in his own right, winning titles such as the Ulster Boys Championship and the Ulster Youth Championship as well as representing Ireland at the 1990 European Youths Championship.”
  • “After attending the University of Toledo on a golf scholarship, Elliott tried to make it as a professional before accepting an assistant professional’s post at Lake Nona in Orlando.”
  • “The 42-year-old eventually moved into caddying and worked for the likes of 2003 Open champion Ben Curtis before the job opportunity which would change his life at the 2013 US PGA.”
  • “Claude Harmon was coaching Brooks and he said he needed a caddie for Oak Hill,” Elliott added.
6. European ETour Championship
Interesting stuff…
“The European Tour has teamed up with Dreamhack to launch its first esports competition – the European eTour Championship – at this week’s Made in Denmark presented by FREJA.”
  • “Eight of the best players from around the world in the most popular online golf game “World Golf Tour” by Topgolf will go head-to-head in knockout match play format for a prize fund of $5,000 – the biggest prize pool in an esports golf tournament.”
  • “These eight players represent the more than 15 million players around the world that play World Golf Tour (WGT) for the most realistic golf game experience online or on their mobile devices.”
7. Don’t compare
JT, for one, is having none of the “2000-2001 Tiger vs Brooks” talk…
Per Golfweek’s Roxanna Scott…”You can’t compare any of us to Tiger because the stuff that Tiger did – nobody has come close to. Now if Brooks continues this run and does this for 15 years, yeah you can compare the two somewhat. The guy’s won four majors; Tiger’s won 15,” Thomas said Monday morning at a media event at Ralph Lauren’s headquarters in Manhattan to launch his new PoloGolfxJT collection for the brand.
“They’re just so different. It’s not fair to Brooks either; everyone should be bowing down to him and giving him the utmost respect because what he’s done is nothing short of miraculous and unbelievable. I know I’m jealous of him. I’m just hoping somehow to do some of the same.”
8. Equipment streaks
Golf Digest’s E. Michael Johnson with an interesting note about some equipment-related major championship streaks…
  • “Brooks Koepka has now won three of the past five major championships played and four of eight. How historically dominant is Koepka’s stretch? Only Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan are the only male golfers to have won four majors in a eight-major stretch in the modern era. Koepka’s PGA Championship win has elevated him into elite territory.”
  • “There were a few other impressive streaks in majors solidified on Sunday as it relates to the equipment front. Koepka’s winner’s bag from the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black extended four significant equipment runs in drivers, driver shafts, irons shafts and the golf ball. TaylorMade, Mitsubishi and True Temper have all won the past five majors while Titleist golf balls have found the winner’s circle in eight of the last nine, with Tiger Woods’ win at this year’s Masters using a Bridgestone ball stopping a seven-major winning streak for Titleist.”
9. Another side of BK
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…
“Every so often Brooks Koepka will send Florida State coach Trey Jones a text message that reads – Do you guys need a ride?”
“That translates to a lift in a private jet for the FSU men’s golf team.”
“Jones told the Forecaddie that the now four-time major winner is largely misunderstood. Koepka isn’t going to offer up much information – about his generosity or otherwise -­ unless directly asked. “
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Morning 9: Koepka is king | How Brooks got it done | Chamblee eats crow

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

May 20, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Koepka is king
What can you say? Unless you feel our reaction to Brooks Koepka finishing the round he began with a seven-stroke lead just two in front (rather than, say, 10), Sunday was a mere polishing of the crown of the greatest major championship golfer since early 2000s Tiger Woods.
  • A few good takes from Sports Nation’s Brendan Porath…”Koepka did what he does at the majors and became the first player in the history of golf to hold back-to-back U.S. Opens and back-to-back PGA Championships. He’s now won four of his last nine major starts and even when he’s not winning, he’s around rattling the cage of the leaders. Like Tiger coming at you in his peak, Brooksy coming will only continue to be the most nerve-wracking of chaser options if you happen to be a leader at a major.”
  • “…We’ve seen him now win majors on soft courses, windy courses, firm courses, bomber’s courses, and courses considered strategic masterpieces. We’ve seen him come from behind on the weekend and win from in front on the weekend. We’ve seen him hold on under the pressure of this vanishing margin and in the mania of Tiger whipping St. Louis crowds into a frenzy while making at charge at him.”
2. The near turning point
Golf.com’s Dylan Dethier on the scene after Brooks Koepka made bogey at 11, 12, and 13 and what it was like on the ground…
  • A morsel…”Koepka may have thought the same thing, and attempted to play his iron shot past the front pin. But whether from adrenaline, miscalculation or just pure smash factor, Koepka’s ball pierced through the wind and airmailed over the back, nearly 30 yards long of the pin.”
  • “It’s hard to say with certainty why the Long Island mobs had suddenly turned on Koepka. He’s hardly the most popular Tour star, but crowds generally favor chaos, too. The combination of factors turned them boorish as Koepka approached his ball.”
3. Shane Ryan’s Sunday BK diary
I could pick any entry from Ryan’s singular minute-by-minute format, so here’s a taste…
  • “6:31 p.m.: I am far from the first one to make this observation, but it bears repeating: Feels like a really, really bad idea to let the people of Long Island host a Ryder Cup. This is going to be a madhouse in 2024. And now it’s time for Koepka hit his drive on 18, which can’t lose the tournament for him, but could probably win it…but that’s not happening. It’s in the sand left, and there’s still some juice in this orange.”
  • “6:35 p.m.: This may be too reactionary right now, but it feels like, at the very least, this is going to chip away at Koepka’s facade of invulnerability. Because this was a little ugly, even considering the course. And now he’s on the downslope of the bunker, and though he makes a good out, he still has to hit a good wedge to give himself two putts for the win.”
4. How long will the major reign of Brooks last?
Cameron Morfit (with an assist from Padraig Harrington) examines the question
  • “Brooks is young; he might get to double figures,” three-time major winner Padraig Harrington said after missing the cut earlier this week. “It’s a numbers game. He’s young enough that he could do it. Why wouldn’t you talk about getting to 18? He’s cracking them out at a fair pace.”
  • “Koepka, 29, put the lie to his own prediction that the winning score would be around even or a bit better. But he may prove himself right in suggesting before the tournament that he could perhaps get to double digits in major wins. If he keeps this up, he could get there quickly.”
  • “Players drift in and out,” said Harrington, a six-time PGA TOUR winner who won his three majors, the 2007 Open Championship and ’08 Open Championship and PGA Championship, in just 13 months. “Pretty much if you watch everybody’s career, they get about 18 months where they truly peak. Whether they’re 100th in the world and they become 50th, or 50th and it becomes 20th, or 20th and it becomes 10, or 10 becomes 1, I don’t know.”
5. Chamblee eats crow
On Sunday night’s edition of “Live From the PGA Championship,
  • “He’s made a believer out of me,” Chamblee said. “I don’t know that anybody saw this coming,” Chamblee said, referring to Koepka’s four major championship wins in two years. “We saw his talent. We knew how good he was. We knew how far he hit it. We knew that he had good touch around and on the greens. But how is it that a man who’s only won twice in regular Tour events shows up at the events with the thickest pressure, that mean the most, with the most mental hurdles that everybody else trips over, and he just glides right over them, one by one by one? That’s miraculous, is what it is.”
6. Runner-up slam
AFP report…”Back-to-back major runner-up efforts have given Dustin Johnson confidence in his game even as he settled for a career Runner-up Grand Slam by finishing second Sunday at the PGA Championship”
  • “…Johnson, whose only major win came at the 2016 US Open, has runner-up major finishes at the 2011 British Open, 2015 US Open, last month’s Masters and the PGA.”
  • “But he’s in good company with the “Second-place Slam” alongside Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Tom Watson and Craig Wood.”
7. How Koepka avoided collapse
The New York Post’s Mark Cannizzaro…
  • “Surely, after the way he’d manhandled the brutal Black Course for the first 3.5 rounds, the steely Koepka would be as rock solid as anyone to complete the job.”
  • “Until it looked like he wasn’t.”
  • “With Johnson hanging around, Koepka started skidding out of control like a car with bald tires in a rainstorm on the LIE, carding four consecutive bogeys on Nos. 11, 12, 13 and – of all places – the par-3 14th, the shortest hole on the course, where he shocked himself by airmailing the green.”
  • “Those gaffes, along with a Johnson birdie on No. 15 (he was the only player in the field to make birdie on 15 in all four rounds), turned what was once a seven-shot lead into a throat-drying, one-shot differential.”
8. Meanwhile, at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open…
John Strege at Golf Digest…
  • “Helen Alfredsson predominantly is a recreational golfer these days, better than most recreational golfers, of course, but Nassaus and skins games with friends, however spirited, don’t remotely replicate tournament golf.”
  • “Yet Alfredsson, always competitive, often fiery so, somehow cobbled together a game better than good enough to compete, good enough to win a national championship.”
  • “Alfredsson, a 54-year-old Swede, won the second U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C., on Sunday, defeating Juli Inkster and England’s Trish Johnson by two strokes. She received $180,000 for the victory.”
9. Jena Sims: Denied
Important, no? But an awkward moment plenty are talking out…and sure to be a meme if it isn’t already.
  • Rod Ardehali for the Daily Mail…”The pair are filmed walking together with Koepka deep in thought as his rivals, including fellow champion Dustin Johnson, mounted a charge on his lead.”
  • “Sims gets close to him twice and tries to give him a kiss but he shrugs it off and continues walking. When she goes back in again, the golfer pulls back – to the ire of his girlfriend, who folds her arms and walks ahead of him.”
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Brooks Koepka can’t stop defending major titles

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All right, it’s only two, but its two-consecutive PGA Championships…on the heels of two-straight U.S. Open titles. Thanks to the PGA moving up three months, he kinda-sorta has both doubles at the same time.

Brooks Koepka fought the golf course, his swing, the competition, and the self-inflicted pressure that he strives to minimize, and came out a winner. His margin of victory over workout pal Dustin Johnson was two strokes. Johnson had his chances but failed to capitalize. Can you fault him? If you had told him on Wednesday that he would be the only man to shoot all four rounds in the 60s, he might have anticipated a trophy at week’s end. Not to be. Despite a sequence of stumbles, Koepka parred the odd 18th hole and earned his sixth PGA Tour title and fourth major championship.

Here are five reasons he did it.

5. Dustin Johnson might be a one-off major winner, after all.

What they said couldn’t be done, was in Johnson’s grasp. Koepka’s apparently-insurmountable, 7-shot advantage had withered to 2 mere blows, and the man responsible for the winnowing was Dustin Johnson. The man from Myrtle was 3-under on the day, and stood a mere 12 feet from a 4th birdie at the 10th. Behind him, Koepka was even for the day, and about to birdie the 10th hole from 2 feet. Johnson missed, then bogeyed the 11th. What if DJ had made his birdie, and the roars had erupted. Would Koepka have stuffed his ridiculous, 160-yard lob wedge for a kick-in birdie? Probably not. DJ had to be perfect on Sunday, and when he most needed the endurance and the mental fortitude, both were lacking.

4. Koepka survived

I’ve played BPB and I’ve watched my high school golfers compete on it during New York state federation play. It is as difficult as you saw today. One bad swing leads to a bad hole, and it might lead to a run of four bogeys, as Koepka had on holes 11-14. He bogeyed a par five! He bogeyed a flip-shot par three!! He then turned around and parred the two most difficult holes of the closing stretch. Despite another bogey on his nemesis, the 17th, Koepka had enough wiggle room to limp home with par for a 2-shot victory.

3. Koepka elevated his game when needed

There was a point when the lead was down to one stroke, but if not for this shot, Koepka and Johnson would have been tied. The champion knew the adrenaline he was feeling, which explains the ludicrous thought that a gap wedge would fly 158 yards in the air. It did, and the ball settled two feet below the hole at the 10th. No matter what was happening in front of him, Koepka was about to shave a stroke from par. Golfers who choke a tournament away never make shots like this one.

2. Despite this…

I don’t have any words to describe this exchange. Your guy is trying to win a major, and somehow, it seems to be about you?

1. Karma

Doing a kind thing when you least need to do a kind thing, leads to Shivas, the god of Irons, smiling down on you.

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