Tiger passes golf supremacy to Koepka at historic PGA

Brooks Koepka (AP)
Brooks Koepka (AP)

Bethpage - There wasn't a ceremony and Brooks Koepka says he needs plenty more major wins to match Tiger Woods, but the aura of golf invincibility has been passed, at least verbally.

It happened at the PGA Championship after defending champion Koepka fired a five-under par 65 at Bethpage Black on Friday to seize a seven-stroke lead on 12-under 128.

It's the largest 36-hole lead in modern major history. It's the lowest 36-hole score in major history by two shots.

And it's clear Woods, Koepka's playing partner the past two days who missed the cut with scores of 72 and 73, sees what happens when a new generation learns from his legend.

"At 29 he has got many more years ahead of him where he can do this," Woods said. "He paid his dues. He found a game and a dedication that he needed to play well and he's doing that."

Woods edged Koepka by a stroke last month to win the Masters, ending an 11-year major win drought for his 15th career major title. He won the first 14 with big 54-hole leads and sees Koepka able to do the same now.

"He's driving it 330 yards in the middle of the fairway. He's got 9-irons when most of us are hitting 5-irons, 4-irons, and he's putting well," Woods said.

"That adds up to a pretty substantial lead and if he keeps doing what he's doing, there's no reason why he can't build on this lead."

Woods can see himself in Koepka.

"Relative to the field, I was about that long early in my career, when you're able to hit the ball much further than other players," Woods said.

"I was never that big. I was 130 pounds. But we're both able to generate speed. I didn't have muscle. I did it through whip and timing.

"Brooksy has just got pure power and he's an athlete. He played other sports and he could have easily been a baseball player. Players like that who come to golf generally hit the ball far because a baseball bat is so much heavier than a golf club."

Koepka dismisses the hurry to anoint him as the new Tiger, even as he admits he has a great chance to win his fourth major in his past eight starts on Sunday.

"I've got 11 more to go or 12 more to go before that happens," Koepka said.

He shot the lowest round by any Woods playing partner in a major since Woods turned professional in 1996.

"You have to bring your game when you're with him," Koepka said.

Koepka said that when Woods shook his hand after the round he said, "Keep it up. Great playing, and finish it off strong."

Koepka said it wasn't even a great day lamenting two bogeys.

"I didn't strike it that good. But the way I hung in there today and battled it, I think was probably more impressive than (his 63), not having your A game but still being able to shoot a great score."

READ: Scott doesn't see Koepka as unbeatable at PGA

Asked about how he blasted out of tall weeds, Koepka said, "That's why I go to the gym."

Asked about his putting, Koepka said,

"I feel as comfortable as I've ever felt putting this week. I feel every time I even slide the putter right behind the ball it's lined up perfectly."

And he admits he learned by playing alongside Woods in the past not to watch him as he had on television as a child.

"All I did was watch him for nine holes. That's what I grew up doing," Koepka said. "And you can't do that. You've got to focus on your own game."

And it's clear Koepka has learned from Woods when you have a lead to keep going.

"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.

"Make sure you don't make any double bogeys and I should have a good chance of winning the championship."

Tee times for Saturday's third round of the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black:

All SA times

1st tee

13:50: Joost Luiten (NED), Lucas Herbert (AUS)

14:00: Justin Harding (RSA), J.T. Poston (USA)

14:10: David Lipsky (USA), Shane Lowry (IRL)

14:20: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA), Andrew Putnam (USA)

14:30: J.J. Spaun (USA), Thomas Pieters (BEL)

14:40: Corey Conners (CAN), Rob Labritz (USA)

14:50: Rich Beem (USA), Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP)

15:00: Adam Long (USA), Ryan Vermeer (USA)

15:10: Cameron Smith (AUS), Abraham Ancer (MEX)

15:20: Jason Day (AUS), Kevin Tway (USA)

15:30: Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN), Rory McIlroy (NIR) 

15:40: Emiliano Grillo (ARG), Tony Finau (USA)

15:50: Jason Kokrak (USA), Cameron Champ (USA)

16:00: Li Haotong (CHN), Alex Noren (SWE)

16:10: Charley Hoffman (USA), Graeme McDowell (NIR)

16:20: Adam Hadwin (CAN), Henrik Stenson (SWE)

16:30: Kurt Kitayama (USA), Sam Burns (USA)

16:50: Joel Dahmen (USA), Billy Horschel (USA)

17:00: Aaron Wise (USA), Marty Jertson (USA)

17:10: Brandt Snedeker (USA), Max Homa (USA)

17:20: Webb Simpson (USA), Beau Hossler (USA)

17:30: Pat Perez (USA), Danny Willett (ENG)

17:40: Lucas Glover (USA), Paul Casey (ENG)

17:50: Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN), Ross Fisher (ENG)

18:00: Tyrrell Hatton (ENG), Francesco Molinari (ITA)

18:10: Matt Kuchar (USA), Jimmy Walker (USA)

18:20: Zach Johnson (USA), Phil Mickelson (USA)

18:30: Gary Woodland (USA), Keegan Bradley (USA)

18:40: Charles Howell (USA), Matt Fitzpatrick (ENG)

18:50: Chez Reavie (USA), Xander Schauffele (USA)

19:00: Scott Piercy (USA), Mike Lorenzo-Vera (FRA)

19:10: Patrick Cantlay (USA), Bronson Burgoon (USA)

19:20: Rickie Fowler (USA), Hideki Matsuyama (JPN)

19:40: Tommy Fleetwood (ENG), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA)

19:50: Harold Varner (USA), Erik Van Rooyen (RSA)

20:00: Kang Sung (KOR), Jazz Janewattananond (THA)

20:10: Justin Rose (ENG), Danny Lee (NZL)

20:20: Matt Wallace (ENG), Luke List (USA)

20:30: Dustin Johnson (USA), Kelly Kraft (USA)

20:40: Adam Scott (AUS), Daniel Berger (USA)

20:50: Brooks Koepka (USA), Jordan Spieth (USA)

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