KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (Reuters) – If Brooks Koepka wins the PGA Championship on Sunday he will be the first player to capture the major title three times in four years since the event switched from match play to stroke play in 1958.
Koepka won back-to-back championships in 2018 and 2019, before Collin Morikawa triumphed last year.
Jack Nicklaus won three times in five years (1971, ’73 and ’75).
Even though Phil Mickelson leads fellow American Koepka by one stroke heading into the final round at Kiawah Island, Koepka is arguably the man to beat given that he seemingly is impervious to pressure.
And watch out if his putting is better at Kiawah Island on Sunday, after he struggled to gauge the speed on Saturday.
“That was the worst putting performance I think I’ve ever had in my career. Can’t get much worse,” the always blunt-taking Koepka said after shooting two-under-par 70.
“I’ll go figure this out here shortly … From inside 10 feet, I’m usually banging it in the back of the cup.
“I thought 70 was about the highest I could have shot today.”
Koepka’s lofty position comes even though his right knee is far from fully healed after he damaged it in March, an injury he said required surgery to put a dislocated kneecap back in place.
He previously was troubled in 2019 and 2020 with an injured left knee.
By moving into second place on Saturday, Koepka earned a final-round pairing with Mickelson. They will play in front of a no doubt raucous pro-Mickelson gallery, but that is unlikely to bother Koepka the slightest.
Bring it on, he said in so many words, and he eyed up a chance for what would be a fifth major title – two U.S. Opens as well as the trio of PGAs.
“I can see what he’s doing, and everybody else is in front of me, so I’ll have a good idea on the leaderboard what’s going on,” Koepka said.
“Simple. If I strike it anything like I did the last three days, I’ll have a chance.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Andrea Ricci)