ST. LOUIS — The warmth was too oppressive, and the course was oh so forgettable. Frankly, every little thing about this golf event within the St. Louis Cardinals’ yard was supposed to be for the birds. Only good ol’ Midwestern hospitality may save this PGA Championship from itself, together with appreciative, single-day crowds that appeared large enough to fill Busch Stadium for a three-game collection with the Chicago Cubs.
There are a number of causes to suppose Tiger Woods can pull this off on Sunday. There are simply as many causes to suppose he will not. We look at all of them.
All you want to know in regards to the 2018 version of the PGA Championship, together with day-by-day outcomes and evaluation from Bellerive.
But then gods gifted this marathon Saturday out of left area and left us all with a Sunday at colorless and faceless Bellerive that could possibly be probably the most memorable golf occasion of the yr, and of a few years to come. This is not in regards to the chief, Brooks Koepka, as a lot as it’s in regards to the males in place to topple him, although Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open champ who approaches the ultimate rounds of majors the best way John Wayne approached the swinging doorways of Wild West saloons.
Tiger Woods has a likelihood to win this factor at age 42, greater than 10 years after his 14th and final main title and solely three weeks after he held The Open lead with eight holes to play. Rickie Fowler has a likelihood to win this factor at age 29, and to lastly hand off the scarlet letters BPNTWAM (Best Player Never To Win A Major) to another poor soul. Adam Scott, the previous Masters champ with leading-man appears to be like, is true there, and so is burgeoning star Jon Rahm, at 23 probably the most promising younger Spaniard since Sergio Garcia. Former PGA champs Justin Thomas and Jason Day are solely 4 behind Koepka, and one behind them is Open winner Francesco Molinari, who stared down Tiger of their Sunday pairing at Carnoustie.
If the PGA posted a marquee excessive above this closing spherical to come, it’d properly learn “Muscles and Mayhem.” In the lead at 12 beneath, Koepka is supplying the rolled-up sleeves and the form of blacksmith arms that will’ve left Arnold Palmer’s arms on the improper aspect of a before-and-after advert. In reality, Koepka could be the one golfer on the planet able to making Woods really feel a bit self-conscious in regards to the dimension of his personal pipes.
Only 28, Koepka adopted up his second-round 63, which tied a PGA Championship file, with a Four-under 66 that landed him 18 holes away from his third main. He has a likelihood to make historical past in the identical city the place his nice uncle, an outdated shortstop named Dick Groat, helped the Cardinals beat the New York Yankees within the 1964 World Series. The locals have loved watching Koepka hit the lengthy ball. The slugger has what his father, Bob, calls “those steely eyes” when he prepares for a Sunday spherical in a main. After incomes his preserve the arduous manner on the minor league circuits abroad, he swaggers about with a chip on his shoulder the dimensions of a beer keg.
Koepka likes to level out that he usually appears like golf’s nowhere man. He has complained that he felt forgotten by gamers, followers and media whereas he recovered from the springtime wrist harm that knocked him out of the Masters (Koepka has talked about greater than as soon as that solely three friends — Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, and Dustin Johnson — bothered to textual content him), and he even used his 54-hole lead at Bellerive as a chance to inform the story of how he hit a native Life Time Fitness with DJ earlier Saturday.
“[On Saturday], I was in there with Dustin, and everybody wanted a picture with Dustin,” Koepka stated. “They were talking about him as we left, and I was just standing there laughing. They were like, ‘Did you see that No. 1 player in the world was here? It’s like, ‘Yeah, OK.’ I don’t know what to say to that. It was like, ‘All right.'”
A crowd of reporters laughed at Koepka’s retelling, however it’s clear this is one golfer who does not usually discover actual or imagined slights humorous.
“I can think of plenty of people along the way telling me I’ll be nothing,” he had stated the opposite day, “working at McDonald’s, doing things like that. The whole time, you’re just trying to prove them wrong. You’re always trying to prove somebody wrong. Sometimes your haters, I guess, are your biggest motivators.”
Koepka blew out the U.S. Open area at Erin Hills final yr with a record-tying finish of 16 beneath, this after his short-game coach acquired proper up in his face on the vary and instructed him, “You’re no good. You’re never going to win a major. You’re never going to win another golf tournament again.”
When folks mocked Erin Hills as an unworthy U.S. Open check, Koepka answered them two months in the past by acing what the USGA conceded was an unfair check at Shinnecock Hills, and he turned the game’s first back-to-back nationwide champ since Curtis Strange three many years earlier. Koepka did not waste any time and vitality complaining in regards to the USGA. He simply discovered a manner to bury his pal, taking part in companion and the world’s prime participant, Johnson, and in doing so gained the identical event at 1 over that he gained at 16 beneath the yr earlier than.
Now Koepka has to maintain off a vast circle of PGA contenders that is heavy on prompt title recognition and, in Woods, that features arguably the best golfer ever attempting to write one of many sport’s best tales.
“I feel like, if I do what I’m supposed to do,” Koepka stated, “I should win the golf tournament. Yeah, there’s a lot of star power, and it should be. It’s a major championship. You should see the best players in the world come to the top.”
On cue, these gamers have ascended into a Sunday showdown that might make the 100th PGA Championship one for the ages. Woods is probably the most intriguing challenger, after all, as a result of he has made remarkably quick progress in this comeback, and since he was 4 off the 54-hole lead at Carnoustie — identical to he’s at Bellerive — earlier than he surged to the highest of the board and flipped the sports activities world on its ear.
Tired and hungry, an outdated Tiger survived 29 holes Saturday. Can the Tiger of outdated present up Sunday, emerge from a crowd of star-studded hopefuls and knock that tough-guy look off Koepka’s face?
It appears to be like like we’re all going to have a hell of a lot of enjoyable discovering out.