BRUCE Koepka won the 101st PGA Championship yesterday, but not after a gutsy finish at the dreaded Bethpage in New York.
Enjoying a seven-stroke margin going to the final round, Koepka had to cling to dear life to avert a foldup in the second majors of the year.
After bogeying 17 on a muffed four-footer, Koepka’s lead was down to two with one hole left.
That put him in a potential mental meltdown situation as golf is more of battling your own demons than your actual foes.
At a glance, Koepka was trying to shoo away knee-knocking temblors as he pulled out a driver for his last tee shot of the day.
That was one way of telling himself, egging himself on, that he was OK.
Selecting the three-wood would have meant he was succumbing to uncertainty. That his driver would be a confidence-booster, if not a confidence-restorer.
The gamble nearly backfired as his drive saw the left rough.
Fortunately for him, he had a shot.
After playing out to find his friendliest fairway in four days, he would next come up with his best pitch of the tournament: Six feet from the hole.
From there, he needed two putts to win. He one-putted it and next punched the air with all his might, as though delivering the one final blow against the last demon swimming in his mind.
It was his fourth win in his last eight majors but more importantly, Koepka became officially the world’s No. 1 golfer, dislodging fellow American Dustin Johnson.
Johnson, yes, finished two shots behind but his runnerup purse of $1.888 million was a lot more than what other champions had won, including Matt Kuchar’s prize in topping the Sony Open in January.
In the NBA Eastern Finals, Toronto breathed new life to its sagging spirits when it defeated Milwaukee, 118-112, in two thrilling overtimes behind Kawhi Leonard’s 36 points in 52 minutes of play.
Giannis Antetokounmpo fouled out, hurting Milwaukee’s cause.
Milwaukee carries a 2-1 lead going to Wednesday’s Game 4 in Toronto and I see it ending in a 2-2 tie if Giannis (only 12 points yesterday) succumbs to a double-team again. Lunch?