When it was confirmed in 2017 that the US PGA Championship would move from its traditional August date to May from 2019, Tiger Woods was four months removed from spinal fusion surgery and just three from being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. It's the lone major among his nine PGA Tour victories.
"There's 156 in the field, so you figure at least 80 of them I'm just going to beat", Koepka told a news conference.
That should have been obvious after Woods threatened to win both the Open Championship and the PGA Championship past year and then won the Tour Championship, but his impeccable performance a month ago has silenced all critics. Now he is re-writing them and reviving his lifelong quest to better Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships.
"To be honest, I wasn't ready yet to start the grind of practising and preparing and logging all those hours again", he said.
Three-times major victor Padraig Harrington, meanwhile, was impressed with the way Woods played within himself and closed out his one-shot Masters win in clinical fashion.
Despite having become the world's first multi-billion dollar golf player, Woods had a disastrous year, culminating in a horrifying vehicle crash in front of a neighbour's house.
The 29-year-old will play the first two rounds of the PGA Championship on Thursday and Friday alongside Masters champion Tiger Woods and British Open champion Francesco Molinari.
"As far as JD taking a cart", Woods said Tuesday, "well, I walked with a broken leg. So ..."
What held him back this time was emotional exhaustion from a moment in golf that won't be soon forgotten.
The only concern I have is the putter; if it's anything like the final 36 holes at Shinnecock then it may be a tough run (I'm blaming the putting woes more on the USGA than I am DJ). He's someone to keep a close eye on.
"Half the people shoot themselves out of it, and mentally I know I can beat majority, and then from there it's those guys left, who's going to play good and who can win". "It was pretty neat, pretty special for all of us. I do like a little bit of boisterousness". But at the same time, that's what our sport needed. It's hard to win majors.
Koepka, listed among the betting favorites, isn't about to concede. Almost two inches of rain fell earlier this week while a soggy spring will continue to keep the course soft with a few showers forecasted for Thursday and Friday. Woods' talent is clearly still there - he's proved as much - but now it's all about consistency. Padraig Harrington noticed watching the final round of the Masters. What got his attention was how Woods played amid a six-player logjam on the back nine.
"Players want to have a buzz", Harrington said. I think circumstances have led to me just not feeling like that. It's a big ol' golf course, and you've got to be ready for it.
He came to Bethpage Black last week for 18 holes, a long round that tried to cover every detail of how to handle the course.
"It's just a course where you need to hit the fairways, but even if you do hit the fairways, then there's a long way to go".
Q. You haven't gone major to major without playing all that often in your career, but as you look ahead now, is it something you might consider doing more often? "This could be a hell of a championship".
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