(Reuters) – With each mammoth drive and perfect putt, Brooks Koepka is turning the PGA Championship into his personal showcase and converting his competitors to admirers.
May 17, 2019; Bethpage, NY, USA; Brooks Koepka lines up his putt on the 18th green during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Bethpage State Park – Black Course. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Koepka’s second day on the Bethpage Black course on Friday was reminiscent of the type of dominance that playing partner Tiger Woods once had.
“Relative to the field, I was about that long, early in my career,” Woods told reporters after watching Koepka fire a five-under-par 65 that took him to 12-under and a seven-stroke advantage.
“When you’re able to hit the ball much further than other players, and get on the right golf courses where setups like this (are) penalizing … it adds up to a big lead and as I said, there’s no reason why he can’t increase this lead.”
Koepka was keen to ensure that he did just that.
“Yeah, I’d like to see that lead grow as large as it possibly can,” Koepka said.
“I still have to go out there and do what I’m supposed to do, keep putting the ball in the right spot and make sure that you don’t make any double-bogeys.”
The 29-year-old Koepka’s success — he has won three of his last seven major tournaments — has earned praise from his fellow professionals.
“I think he’s got it figured out on how to perform well at the right time, and that’s really what it comes down to when you’re playing major championships,” said Daniel Berger, who is tied for fourth but trails by eight strokes.
“I feel like Tiger was the one who really dialled it in better than anyone, and I feel like Brooks has now kind of figured out what works for him.”
Former U.S. Open winner Justin Rose added that while Koepka had virtually an unassailable lead, it was a case of the pack just continuing to plug away and try to eat into it.
“When he was at nine-under, I was very comfortable with my position,” said Britain’s Justin Rose, who is ninth on three-under par.
“(At) 12-under, I’m not so comfortable, I don’t like that so much, him being so far out in front,
“You know, all we can do is just go out and try to play two good rounds of golf and see what happens.”
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles