After his performance at The Masters, there was no question that Brooks Koepka was back and would be a force at the PGA Championship. At Augusta Brooks dominated early, jumping out to a big lead—but faltered in the final round. The PGA, however, was a different story. Koepka started slowly, gradually building momentum each day before bringing the hammer down on Sunday afternoon.
After posting 2 over in the first round, Brooks lurked in the shadows, 6 shots off the lead held by Bryson DeChambeau at -4. On Friday he glided through the front nine at even par, slowly moving up the leaderboard on the immensely difficult Donald Ross layout at Oak Hill.
And then Brooks kicked it, pouring in 5 birdies on the back nine for 31 and a second round 66, climbing to fifth—3 shots behind the leaders as the championship headed into the weekend.
As if Oak Hill wasn’t tough enough already, Saturday’s weather for the third round featured continuous rain, making the already nasty rough that much more difficult and taking the opportunity to post a low number out of the equation.
It was the perfect storm for Koepka though, who loves nothing more than a hellishly difficult golf course combined with horrendous conditions and maximum pressure. Again, Brooks quietly glided through the front nine with a 1 under 34, and then battered the back with 3 birdies for another 66—going into Sunday with a 1 shot lead over young Victor Hoveland.
Unlike Sunday at The Masters, Koepka put his foot on the gas right out of the box with 3 birdies in the first 4 holes, extending his lead to 3 shots. Hoveland wouldn’t quit though, pulling to within a shot on the sixth hole and staying right there until a double on 16, combined with yet another Koepka birdie, ended his chances.
The win was Koepka’s fifth major championship, one more than Rory McIlroy, and the same number reached by Byron Nelson, Seve Ballesteros and Peter Thomson. It will be hard to bet against Brooks at the Los Angeles Country Club for the U.S. Open Championship in June—although Jon Rahm and Scotty Scheffler won’t just step aside and hand it to him.
On the other hand, Koepka will no doubt relish the competition—and we can look forward to the kind of gunfight not seen at a major championship in a long time.
LIV Power Ranking Update
Players have been rated and ranked on the basis of events played, average finish, wins, runner up, Top-5 and Top-10 finishes–as well as performance at the 2022 and 2023 major championships (LIV Player Rankings).
While seventy-five players have participated in one or more tournaments since the inaugural event in London last year, we’ve included only the top forty-eight. With Brooks Koepka’s win at the PGA and Cam Smith recording a Top 10, a big bite has been taken out of Dustin Johnson’s lead in the Power Rankings—and if either were to win this weekend at Trump National in DC, Johnson may find himself knocked from his perch.
No. 1 Dustin Johnson: 95.4 Rating
Dustin is still the only player with a Top 10 average finish (9.6). He has also recorded the most wins (2) and the most top 10’s (7).
Unfortunately, DJ wasn’t sharp at The Masters (T48), and after firing a 67 in the first round of the PGA he followed up with 3 consecutive rounds of 74 to finish far back at T55.
Dustin will have to pick up his game to keep Koepka and Smith at bay—perhaps he’ll put it in gear over the weekend in DC.
No. 2 Cameron Smith: 89.7 Rating
With a T10 in Singapore, runner-up in Tulsa and final round 65 at the PGA to record a Top 10, Cameron Smith has moved back up into the No. 2 position. If Cam takes home the trophy in Washington and DJ were to finish back in the pack, he can vault past Johnson and grab the top spot.
No. 3 Brooks Koepka: 87.2 Rating
2023 is shaping up to be a monster year for Brooks Koepka. His second LIV win at Orange County National/Orlando in early April was immediately followed by the fantastic performance at the Masters where he made it clear that the injuries were in the past and his game was back.
Following the runner up at The Masters, Brooks finished 11th at Adelaide, 3rd in Singapore and 5th at Tulsa—and then came his magnificent PGA Championship victory.
It will be fun to see if Brooks keeps the peddle to the metal at Trump National in DC this weekend—and the field better take cover if he does.
Patrick Reed: No. 5—73.5 Rating
While Reed is still looking for his first LIV win, he has recorded 5 Top 5 finishes in 12 starts, including a runner up and 3 third place finishes. Patrick is also second only to DJ in average finish at 12.5.
Reed also followed up his T4 at The Masters with a top 20 finish at the PGA—perhaps this is his week to nail down that first win.
Bryson DeChambeau: No. 15–52.5 Rating
With only one Top 10 finish in his first 11 LIV events, Bryson was treading water in the middle of the pack—and then he recorded a 5th place finish two weeks ago at Cedar Ridge Country Club in Tulsa and followed that up with a T4 at the PGA Championship.
Bryson decided to shed much of his bulk toward the end of 2022, and it seems he now feels comfortable in the new slimmed down version of himself—look to see him start packing on more LIV Top-10’s and make some noise at the U.S. Open in LA.
Phil: No. 31—40.3 Rating
Phil is an enigma, no doubt about it. In thirteen LIV events he has recorded only one Top-10—but let him step foot on Augusta National and suddenly he fires a 65 in the final round and adds another runner-up to his amazing major championship record.
And making the cut in the PGA at Oak Hill, as an army of pros half his age packed up and headed home, was yet another milestone in Phil’s illustrious career—the 100th time he made the cut in a major championship.
Only Jack (131) and Gary Player (102) are in front of him—so Phil has a chance to tie Player for second before the year is over.
Now if only he’d stop fooling around and put up some numbers in the regular LIV events…
PGA Championship: Summary
|Harold Varner III||T29|
2023 Upcoming LIV Schedule
DC Trump National Golf Club, Washington (May 26-28)
Valderrama Real Club, Spain (June 30-July 2)
London Centurion Club, Hertfordshire UK (July 7-9)
Greenbrier Old White/The Greenbrier WV (August 4-6)
Bedminster Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster NJ (August 11-13)