The 2019 PGA Championship is complete. As was the case in 2018, Brooks Koepka came out victorious.
With his win, Koepka now has four major wins in less than two years. He’s also the No. 1 ranked player in the world. As such, is clearly the week’s top winner. But he’s not the only man who should be happy with his week. Dustin Johnson did a lot to make Koepka earn his victory down the stretch. Rory McIlroy didn’t play well at times. Still, he managed to post a respectable week.
Jordan Spieth, meanwhile, had a decent finish. But he let a potential opportunity to contend go by the wayside. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods and Jon Rahm had a short week at Bethpage Black but might have saved themselves from an annoying weekend.
As we look back at the season’s second major, these were the biggest winners and losers from the 2019 PGA Championship.
Winner: Brooks Koepka keeps owning the majors
Koepka opened with a 63 and backed that up with a 65. His game wasn’t quite as sharp over the weekend — especially for part of Sunday’s back nine. But those two rounds gave him the cushion needed to win. Kopeka joins Tiger as the only players to repeat as PGA Champ in the strokeplay era. That, coupled with his U.S. Open wins in 2017 and 2018, makes Koepka the only man to ever hold back-to-back titles at two different majors simultaneously. Prior to the tournament, Koepka opined that majors were easier to win than regular tournaments. Given his results, that’s hard to argue.
Loser: Tiger Woods sent packing on Friday
Tiger’s week featured a lot of one step forward, two steps back. Thursday did feature three birdies and an eagle. Unfortunately, those were more than offset by three bogeys and two doubles. On Friday, a birdie on 13 put him in a position to at least make the cut. But a bogey on 14 (and four subsequent pars coming in) put an end to that. Tiger following up his Masters win was one of the week’s major talking points. His history at Bethpage Black made us feel really good about his chances at contending. It just didn’t go well.
Winner: Dustin Johnson makes it interesting
For so much of Sunday, the final round looked like nothing more than a victory lap for Koepka. Then, DJ made it interesting. He remained solid for much of the round. Then, when he birdied 15, Johnson was briefly only one back. DJ did finish poorly and by the end, Koepka won with a two-shot cushion. But Johnson did a lot to make Sunday more interesting than it had any right being. In doing so, he finished in second place and is now the eighth golfer in history to finish as the runner-up in all four majors.
Loser: Jordan Spieth can’t take advantage of moving-day opportunity
Spieth came into Saturday in second place, seven strokes behind Koepka. While Koepka didn’t have a bad day, an even-par 70 did give Spieth a chance to cut into his lead. Instead, Spieth lost ground to Koepka, shooting a 72. And while Saturday didn’t exactly offer a barrage of birdies, we did see two 67s and five 68s. If Spieth had done that, he might have been more of a factor on Sunday. A T3 is not a terrible finish at all. But he’ll look back on Saturday with some disappointment.
Winner: Rory McIlroy grinds his way to a solid finish
McIlroy was seven-over when he turned on Friday, three off of what the eventual cutline was. Then, things changed. He was four-under over his second nine that day and fired consecutive 69s over the weekend to finish T8. Now, this is important from a couple of perspectives. First, the difference between that and a missed cut is more than $260,000. But beyond the money, we tend to marvel about what golfers like McIlroy do when they’re firing all all cylinders. McIlroy’s A-game clearly didn’t make the trip to Bethpage. Despite that, he grinded out a respectable finish.
Loser: Jon Rahm can’t earn a weekend tee time
Aside from providing one of the week’s funniest moments, Rahm’s 2019 PGA Championship was forgettable. An even-par 70 on Thursday put him well behind the lead. Still, Rahm was in position to make the cut and maybe even be a factor over the weekend. Then, Friday happened. Rahm started on the back nine and bogeyed 12, 13, 15, 16, and 17. He did birdie the first two holes after the turn, but two more bogeys put him below the cut. Rahm came into the week in good form and his game seemed suited for Bethpage Black. But his PGA Championship was a dud.
Winner: Matt Wallace introduces himself to golf world
Wallace had three runner-up finishes in 2019 coming into the week. So, he was in good form. But given that he had made the cut in only one major, it was hard to take him too seriously. He quickly changed that. Wallace opened with a 69 and backed it up with a 67 to enter the weekend at four-under. Saturday and especially Sunday went a little more challenging. But Wallace still finished T3 and made $526,625. For a guy who wasn’t terribly well known coming into the 2019 PGA Championship, we’d call that a heck of a week.
Loser: Bethpage overtaken by too many immature fans
If you’re a golf fan in New York, the galleries at Bethpage did you no favors. First of all, screaming “mashed potatoes” and “Baba Booey” has never been terribly funny. But we’ve heard them so often over the years that now that they’ve moved from immature to boring. Even worse, as the championship moved to its conclusion, too many fans were overcome by their desire to be heard. As a result, many screamed their corny slogans before golfers even made contact with the ball. Cheering loud is fine. But the fans this week did too much to hijack the event. That can’t stop soon enough.