Nice trophy, big check. But how about that tree?
Considering McIlroy was in danger of missing the cut midway through the second round, the PGA could go down as the moment that he rediscovered his game and his optimism. The FedEx Cup playoffs will offer a chance to prove this week was a turnaround, not a fluke.
The 23-year-old American chose Europe’s Challenge Tour as his route to golf’s top levels. He earned promotion to the European Tour in June.
With a special exemption from the PGA of America, he teed off in this week’s PGA Championship and made the cut at a major for the first time in three tries. Grabbing a bite to eat after his third round Saturday, he saw on TV that Tiger Woods was at 4 over, the same score as Koepka. He hoped it stayed that way so the two could play together in the final round.
“I think everyone my age admired him growing up,” said Koepka, who went to Florida State. “He’s the reason I’m playing. It was a bunch of fun to play with him. Nice guy. Hell of a player.”
“It’s hard that first tee,” he said. “That was pretty neat. Just hearing everybody, it was unbelievable the people shouting his name. Obviously, I have seen it growing up and things like that, but when you are actually out there it was definitely a little different.”
Koepka lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and is considering joining Woods‘ home club, The Medalist, a topic they chatted about on the course Sunday. Koepka had seen the world’s top-ranked golfer at the club a couple of times in the past, but “obviously he had no clue who I am.”
Now he knows.
“Really talented. Good kid,” Woods said.
MICKELSON WRAPS UP: Three weeks ago, Phil Mickelson was introduced as the “champion golfer of the year” after winning the British Open. On Sunday, he finished the PGA Championship with little fanfare after rallying for a 72 to finish at the bottom of the pack.