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Brooks Koepka returns to mountaintop, wins PGA for fifth major title

May 21, 2023; Rochester, New York, USA; Brooks Koepka tees off on the fourth hole during the final round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Oak Hill Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Brooks Koepka dialed up seven birdies and slammed the door on playing partner Viktor Hovland to win the PGA Championship on Sunday at Oak Hill Country Club, securing his fifth career major title and the first by an active member of LIV Golf.

Koepka stuck his approach at the last hole pin-high and received an ovation as he ascended to the green. He pumped his fist and embraced his caddie after a final-round, 3-under 67, finishing at 9-under 271 for the week.

Koepka won the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Opens and the 2018 and 2019 PGA Championships and battled knee and hip injuries for some time after that. With his fifth major, he surpassed names such as Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els and tied the likes of Byron Nelson and Seve Ballesteros.

Hovland, the 25-year-old Norwegian, made a long birdie at No. 18 to tie Scottie Scheffler for second at 7-under 273. It was his best finish at a major and his third straight top-10 finish.

Trailing by one at the 16th hole, Hovland attempted to get out of a fairway bunker and his ball embedded in the face of the bunker in front of him — the same misfortune that befell Corey Conners of Canada when he led the championship Saturday evening. Hovland was given free relief but had to punch out.

Koepka then took aim at the 16th pin and left himself just 5 feet for the birdie that clinched the title. Hovland made double bogey, a three-stroke swing on the hole.

After steady rain turned Friday afternoon and Saturday into a slog, players and fans enjoyed perfect weather Sunday, leaving the course ripe for lower scores. No one had shot better than 65 through three rounds, but Scheffler, Australians Cam Davis and Cameron Smith, Kurt Kitayama and Austria’s Sepp Straka all posted 5-under 65 on Sunday.

“With the softening up, with some of the doglegs you don’t just run through, it’s easier to hit the fairway,” Kitayama said. “You felt like you could probably attack a little more today.”

Davis, Kitayama and Bryson DeChambeau (70) tied for fourth at 3-under 277. Straka tied for seventh at 2 under with McIlroy, who shot his third straight 69. Smith, Patrick Cantlay (66) and Englishman Justin Rose (71) tied for ninth at 1 under.

Michael Block, the club professional who entered the day six back after three even-par rounds of 70, punctuated his week with a dramatic hole-in-one at the par-3 15th that flew straight into the hole without a bounce. He carded a 71 and tied for 15th, which earned him an exemption into next year’s PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.

–By Adam Zielonka, Field Level Media