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May 20, 2019

Brooks Koepka is the new prototype of the championship golfer

Brooks Koepka completed his victory of the 101st PGA Championship in less than stellar fashion. However, it should not be taken that he didn't earn or deserve to be holding the Wanamaker Trophy at the end of the tournament. The winning score was nine under par. Second place shot seven under and then third a distance three under par. Clearly he was the best player on what turned out to be a beast of a golf course. Now the winner of four major championships within a two year period, he is unmistakably the best player in golf and the model for future championship golfers.

Because of his length off the tee and pure strength digging shots out of punishing rough, he had a clear advantage over most of the field. Except for the Masters, the other three major championships typically feature similar requirements for accurate long driving between penal rough. Length and strength will be necessary attributes for future champions. Brooks Koepka is a finely tuned athlete at 6 foot tall and 186 lbs. He could easily play other sports that require strength, agility, and speed. He regularly bench presses 225 lbs. fifteen times in his typical pre-round workout! It is not surprising that Dustin Johnson, who finished second, also has exceptional strength and has an equally impressive workout routine. Many years ago only Gary Player was an advocate for strong muscles and a lean body for golf. Now, if you are a professional golfer and are not working out conscientiously with qualified help you are being left behind.

Brooks is definitely on a run with his fourth major victory in two years, but it is not that unusual. Rory McIlroy won four times in a three year span. Jordan Spieth won three in three years. Padrick Harrington got three wins in a six major stretch. Ben Hogan won six out of eight majors in his prime. The best dominant period of all is Tiger Woods record of seven wins in eleven championships. I don't think Brooks is through winning majors, but this also could be his peak.

Matt Wallace, Patrick Cantlay, and Jordan Spieth put up impressive hard fought numbers to finish in a distant third place tie. Spieth's performance was especially uplifting, because he hadn't finished in the top 20 in one tournament in 2019. There is no question that he will be back to major championship caliber soon, but from what I saw, he still has a lot to clean up. He was clearly outmanned on Saturday, when he was paired with Koepka. Poor driving and erratic iron play doomed his Saturday play. On Sunday, his round was a gritty display of determination coupled with exceptional putting. It was a big step forward, but you have to be able to drive it in the fairway when giving up distance to the likes of a Koepka or Johnson.

Bethpage Black showed its teeth the final two rounds, combining that with the New York crowds being their obnoxious noisy worst, it could be the most trying conditions to play under. Brooks showed moxie and guts of a champion to prevail. Golf will still require the soft touch of an artist, like Dave Stockton, with a wedge; the deft skill of a magician, like Ben Crenshaw, on the putting green; and the creativity, like Ben Hogan, of finely struck and shaped iron shots, but those that are performing will be more than likely be prototypes of the Brooks Koepka's body type and mental makeup; strong, fit, and fearless. Welcome to modern championship golf.

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