FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Brooks Koepka is taking part in at a stage that evokes comparisons to a 20-something Tiger Woods. He’ll take a seven-stroke lead into Sunday’s ultimate spherical of the P.G.A. Championship; with a victory he’ll change into the primary man to carry back-to-back titles in two majors concurrently.
However after carding a par 70 for a 54-hole complete of 12-under 198, Koepka insisted that he can be chasing neither historical past nor glory in the course of the ultimate spherical at Bethpage Black. He’s content material to jot down his personal story, thanks very a lot.
“I’m simply making an attempt to do me,” Koepka mentioned. He added: “Clearly to win could be nice. However I imply, it’s simply one other day of labor for me.”
Koepka’s nearest challengers embrace Harold Varner III and the 23-year-old Jazz Janewattananond, who posted matching 67s on Saturday. They’re at 5 underneath with Koepka’s finest pal, Dustin Johnson, and Luke Record, who every posted 69s.
“We’re all just about taking part in for second,” Record mentioned. “That hasn’t been mentioned since Tiger in his heyday.”
Woods missed the lower by one stroke whereas taking part in the primary two days with Koepka. On Saturday, Koepka, 29, was paired with Jordan Spieth, 25, his diametrical reverse in persona and taking part in type. Koepka is a basher of the ball who goes about his job with a ticket taker’s impassive effectivity. Spieth is a tinkerer, technician and self-talker who wields his putter like a brush to maintain his scorecard neat and tidy.
From 2015 to 2017, Spieth received three of the 12 majors contested and was celebrated as the sport’s subsequent celebrity, a job Koepka since has usurped with victories in three of the final eight majors, together with final 12 months’s P.G.A. Championship.
Spieth has gone 42 begins since his final victory, at the 2017 British Open. His finest end this season is a tie for 21st on the Masters as he has performed with the deliberation attribute of a person with a cluttered thoughts.
Like a slapdash housekeeper, Spieth has maintained appearances throughout his “little bit of a hunch,” as he described it, by stuffing all of the detritus of his sport within the storage closet that’s his mind. After he performed his means into the ultimate pairing with a 66 on Friday, Spieth was requested about his weekend scoring common.
Spieth, who ranks outdoors the highest 190 on the tour within the third and fourth rounds, dismissed the numbers as “deceiving.” Then he went out and carded a 72, barely larger than his Saturday common of 71.67, to fall right into a four-way tie for eighth at three underneath — 9 strokes again — in the one main he has not received.
Spieth’s try to change into the sixth man to finish a profession Grand Slam has basically given technique to Koepka’s bid for a Secretariat-like end. Koepka struggled on the again 9, taking part in it in a single over because the wind picked up and the temperatures fell.
However his demeanor by no means modified. He wore the identical poker face that he displayed when he had birdie seems on the primary six holes. Koepka transformed two of these, together with on the 472-yard par-Four fifth the place he hit his drive 330 yards and his strategy to a few toes.
At that time, Koepka was at 14 underneath and eight away from the sphere (and 10 forward of Spieth, who bogeyed the fifth). Brandel Chamblee, a Golf Channel analyst, mentioned of Koepka, who’s 6 toes and 205 kilos, “He’s constructed like Hulk Hogan and swings like Ben Hogan.”
It’s simple to think about Koepka difficult considered one of Woods’s most notable achievements: his double-digit margins of victory in two majors whereas in his 20s. Koepka closed with an eight-under 64 final October to win the CJ Cup 9 Bridges by 4 photographs after taking a four-stroke lead into the ultimate spherical. His final-round common is 67.75, which makes him a formidable front-runner.
“Properly, it has to return to an finish ultimately, that good front-running,” Adam Scott, who’s tied for eighth, mentioned Friday with amusing. “Let’s hope it’s not 12 years like Tiger’s front-running lasted.”
It doesn’t take a lot for golfers to go from invincible to invisible. Spieth was powerful to run down in 2015; his final-round scoring common was 68.80. 4 seasons later, his Sunday stroke common is 73.11.
And earlier than Spieth was recognized as the longer term king, the throne was reserved for Rory McIlroy of Northern Eire, who received 4 majors from 2011 to 2014. However since that run, McIlroy is zero for 16 — quickly to be zero for 17. His strong third-round 69 left him 14 strokes behind Koepka.
“He’s positively, in these occasions, taking part in on a special stage than most everybody else,” McIlroy mentioned on Saturday, including, “I haven’t performed nicely sufficient to be on the market, and that’s the way in which it’s.”
After Woods missed the lower, he inspired Koepka to go “end it off sturdy.”
However current historical past means that no one ought to assume Koepka can preserve the endurance of Woods, who led the tour in victories in a season 11 occasions in 13 years starting in 1997.
“In the event you have a look at individuals’s careers, they get 18 months the place they actually peak,” Padraig Harrington mentioned on Friday. Harrington was talking from expertise; he received three majors in 14 months after which didn’t win once more on the PGA Tour for one more seven years.
“It’s onerous to peak all of your life,” Harrington added.
A part of the problem is that when a participant raises the bar, everybody else doubles their efforts to clear it.
“It’s going to make the opposite guys push themselves,” Varnier mentioned, including: “It’s just about what Tiger did for golf typically. It’s the explanation why individuals work out. It’s the explanation why persons are so good. It’s the explanation why Brooks is doing what he’s doing proper now.”