SO THE Main-winning machine is at it once more – though sadly for Tiger Woods’ military of followers, it was not him bringing the Bethpage beast to its knees within the first spherical of the USPGA.
Defending champion Brooks Koepka, taking part in alongside Masters winner Woods and Claret Jug-holder Francesco Molinari, made the fearsome New York course look extra like a pitch and putt observe.
Koepka actually did make it look ridiculously straightforward as he opened with a bogey-free 63, whereas his taking part in companions have been each grinding out messy 72s – the identical rating as Rory McIlroy, who needed to wait till the 18th gap for his solely birdie.
New Zealander Danny Lee was the one participant to threaten Koepka after a six-under 64 late on.
Along with making six birdies he missed three extra possibilities from inside 12 ft. In any other case we might have witnessed the bottom spherical in championship historical past.
Koepka, 29, couldn’t complain an excessive amount of in regards to the ones that received away.
He set the ball rolling by draining a forty footer from simply off the inexperienced to birdie his opening gap, the tenth, and rounded issues off by sinking one other birdie effort from virtually 35 ft on the ninth.
The stuff in between was not too dangerous both, and also you get the impression they may as properly begin inscribing his identify on the enormous Wanamaker Trophy, just under the spot the place they put his identify final 12 months.
That gave Koepka his third main victory in his final six begins, after back-to-back US Open victories. He virtually made it 4 from seven on the Masters, just for Woods to clinch a one shot victory even his fellow American couldn’t begrudge him.
That’s prone to show solely a short lived blip, and all of a sudden Koepka’s reply after being requested what number of Majors he may find yourself with – “I can’t see any any purpose why I shouldn’t make it to double digits” – doesn’t appear to be wishful considering.
Ten Majors? That’s twice as many as Seve Ballesteros gained, and solely three different males have made it to double figures – Woods, with 16, Jack Nicklaus on 18, and Walter Hagen, who gained 11.
Woods, 43, might nonetheless add to his Main tally. However not this week.
SICK AS A BIRDIE
After trying just like the Tiger of previous when he gained at Augusta, Woods regarded extra like an previous Tiger this time.
The alarm bells have been ringing when he missed a scheduled follow spherical on Wednesday.
That meant he had performed simply 9 holes this week, and his agent issued a press release saying there was nothing fallacious with Woods – he had simply determined to relaxation after getting re-acquainted with the course by taking part in 36 gap final week.
That turned out to be a pack of lies. After his spherical Woods commented: “I wasn’t feeling that good yesterday. I felt a bit of sick, and stayed dwelling. However I felt OK right this moment – I simply made too many errors.
“It’s not straightforward to make birdies on this course, however it’s straightforward to make bogeys. I had a very good run to get it again underneath par, and let it slip. Brooks performed nice – he most likely left a couple of on the market. It might simply have been a pair higher.”
Woods had predicted the important thing to repeating his 2002 US Open victory right here was to “keep away from the doubles – take your drugs and transfer on”.
However that mantra was in tatters after only one gap. A foul drive pressured a lay-up, and a stunning wedge shot from 85 yards flew the inexperienced and led to a double bogey six.
He had one other double on the par three 17th after a poor tee shot resulted in an horrendous lie in a greenside bunker, and was adopted by an unsightly three-putt.
The entrance 9 at Bethpage often yields decrease scores, and Woods all of a sudden went into overdrive, with birdies at one and two, adopted by a superb eagle on the fourth, the place he sank a curling thirty footer.
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That propelled him to one under par, and incredibly he was up to a share of fifth place. But his touch on the greens deserted him after that.
Two more three-putts at five and seven and another clumsy bogey at the par three eighth sent him plummeting back down the leaderboard.
He will know that making up nine shots on a rampant Koepka IS wishful thinking.