Brooks Koepka on fans cheering for Dustin Johnson: ‘I think it helped me’
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Brooks Koepka is always looking for motivation. He found some on the 14th hole at Bethpage Black on Sunday.
It was on the 14th when the PGA Championship, for the first time since Thursday, seemed like it wasn’t Koepka’s to win. He led by six with eight to play but made bogeys on 11, 12 and 13, and two groups ahead of him Dustin Johnson was slowly climbing the leaderboard.
Koepka said he had 150 yards to the hole on the par-3 14th. Playing partner Harold Varner III hit an eight-iron that the strong winds gobbled up, but Koepka said the wind never grabbed a hold of his ball, which flew well over the green. That’s when the crowd started to chant: “D-J! D-J! D-J!”
But it didn’t discourage Koepka. In fact, he says it did the opposite.
“I think it actually helped,” he said on Sunday night, after shooting 74 to win by two. “It was at a perfect time because I was just thinking, Okay, all right. I’ve got everybody against me. Let’s go.”
Koepka failed to get up and down for par on 14 and, after Johnson birdied the 15th, Koepka’s lead was just one. But he hit a bomb down the 15th fairway and played the last four in one over — not a bad feat in Sunday’s brutal wind — and won by two as Johnson stumbled down the stretch.
“I think it helped me kind of refocus and hit a good one down 15,” Koepka said. “I think that was probably the best thing that could have happened. It was very, very stressful, the last hour and a half of that round.”
As for the fans cheering for Johnson after Koepka’s tee shot on 14, the newly minted four-time major champ isn’t holding a grudge.
“It’s New York. What do you expect when you’re half choking it away,” he said. “I think I kind of deserved it. You’re going to rattle off four (bogeys) in a row and it looks like you’re going to lose it; I’ve been to sporting events in New York. I know how it goes.”
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