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Koepka wins PGA Champs

His place in PGA Championship history finally secure, Brooks Koepka draped both arms around the top of the Wanamaker Trophy and let out a deep sigh.

The stress was more than he wanted. The satisfaction was more than he imagined.

Koepka lost all but one shot of his record seven-shot lead Sunday. Then he lost the brutal Long Island crowd, which began chants of "D.J.! D.J.!" as Koepka was on his way to a fourth straight bogey that allowed Dustin Johnson to pull within one shot.

"It's New York," Koepka said. "What do you expect when you're half-choking it away?"

He responded like a player capable of piling up major championships faster than anyone since Tiger Woods.

Motivated by the crowd turning on him, Koepka delivered the key shots over the closing stretch as Johnson faded with two straight bogeys. He closed with a 4-over 74 for a two-shot victory and joined Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the PGA Championship since it went to stroke play in 1958.

That gives him four of the last eight majors he played and makes him the first player to hold two back-to-back majors at the same time. He won his second straight U.S. Open last summer 60 miles down the road at Shinnecock Hills before a far less rowdy crowd.

When his 6-foot par putt fell on the last hole, Koepka thrust his muscular right arm in the air and hugged his caddie hard.

"Today was definitely the most satisfying out of all of them for how stressful that round was — how stressful D.J. made that," Koepka said. "I know for a fact that was the most excited I've ever been in my life there on 18."

Koepka said at the start of the week that majors are sometimes the easiest to win.

This one should have been. It wasn't.

And it didn't help that a raging wind that gusted up to 25 mph turned Bethpage Black into a beast, with Johnson (69) the only player out of the last 12 groups to shoot par or better. Koepka's 74 was the highest final round by a PGA champion since Vijay Singh (4-over 76) won in a playoff at Whistling Straits in 2004.

"I'm just glad I don't have to play any more holes," Koepka said. "That was a stressful round of golf. I'm glad to have this thing back in my hands."

Koepka appeared to wrap it up with a gap wedge from 156 yards to 2 feet on the 10th hole for a birdie, as Johnson made his first bogey of the round up ahead on the 11th. That restored the lead to six shots, and the coronation was on.

And then it all changed in a New York minute.

Four holes later, Koepka walked off the 15th tee with a one-shot lead. He looked over to his left to see Johnson facing a 7-foot par putt on the 16th hole — the most difficult hole at Bethpage Black on Sunday because it was into the wind — to stay within one shot. The groan of the crowd told him Johnson had missed.

"I felt like as long as I had the lead, I was fine," Koepka said. "As long as I put it in the fairway, I was going to be all right."



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