PGA: Brooks Koepka became Paul Casey's cheerleader after crashing out of contention
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 10/08/20 6:38am
Brooks Koepka admitted he spent the back nine rooting for playing partner Paul Casey after his bid for a hat-trick of PGA Championship titles ended by the turn on the final day.
Koepka was just two shots behind leader Dustin Johnson after the third round and boldly declared "I like my chances" while pointing out that he had a vastly superior record to his fellow American when in contention at majors.
"When I've been in this position before, I've capitalised. DJ has only won one," said Koepka on Saturday evening, but his comments came back to haunt him as he endured a torrid outward half, following a bogey at the second with three in a row from the seventh.
Realising he was out of the running, Koepka adopted the role as cheerleader for the veteran Englishman, who was tied for the lead after a birdie at the 16th only for Collin Morikawa to drive the green moments later and convert the putt for eagle as he ran out a two-shot winner in only his second major start.
"To make the turn at four over was disappointing, to say the least," said Koepka, who also bogeyed two of the last three holes to return a 74 which saw him slide to three under - 10 shots adrift of the champion. "I knew I had to be under par, at least one under, to have a good chance on the back side.
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"But it's my first bad round for a while in a major, and I was just there to cheer Paul on. That was it, just trying to help him get it in the house and see how well he could finish, because I had put myself out of it already.
"Paul struck it really well and putted really well. I felt like he probably could have had two or three more. A couple of putts, if he hit them, I think they would have been in.
"I think that's the adjustment you've got to make from the practice putting green here to going out and playing. They are a little bit slower out on the golf course than they are on the putting green. But he played good. Hats off to him. It was fun to watch.
"It wasn't meant to be. Three in a row, you're not really supposed to do two in a row looking at history, but that's all right. We've got two more majors the rest of the season and we'll figure it out from there."
Koepka's Ryder Cup team-mate Bryson DeChambeau was in a more upbeat mood having closed with a 66 to finish in a five-way tie for fourth on 10 under, and he insisted his power tactics remained the way forward in his quest for major success.
"It's super validating," he said. "I don't know how else to put it. I'm just very excited for the future. My driving, I think, is only going to get stronger and farther, golf-course-dependent, obviously.
"But I hope in due time there's going to be an advantage that's out there that gives me a really distinct advantage that helps me win a lot out here. I feel like my putting is good enough, I just have to improve the irons and wedges a little bit.
"Clearly, like on the last hole, my wedge didn't do what I wanted to do, so I'll just keep with the driving and hopefully I'll be right there every time."