There’s a bit of poetic irony in the fact that Brooks Koepka, who’s long complained about the perceived lack of media coverage he receives, finally became the No. 1 golfer in the world while most of the United States slept.
Koepka won the CJ Cup in South Korea on Sunday morning by four strokes, a characteristically dominating performance by a guy who’s quietly bent golf to his will over the past 18 months. That victory gave him enough points in the Official World Golf Rankings to vault him to the top spot on the planet.
“To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said after the win. “I don’t think this one’s going to sink in.”
Koepka’s relentless charge
It’s been one hell of a run for Koepka, who in the past year-plus has won two U.S. Opens and a PGA Championship that featured him staring down none other than Tiger Woods for the victory. He earned the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year award for last season, and there hasn’t been a more deserving candidate in many years.
What makes him so great is that Koepka combines brute force off the tee with an unexpectedly deft touch around the greens:
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 21, 2018
Here’s what’s strange about Koepka: He’s won only five PGA Tour events, but three of those have been majors. He comes up big at the biggest moments.
Sunday at the CJ Cup was no exception. He began the day with a two-shot lead, paired with Ian Poulter. But Gary Woodland put on a charge, holing 10 birdies in his first 16 holes to pull even with Koepka.
You can guess what happened next based on his history. Koepka didn’t flinch, and instead put Woodland away with the kind of relentless, late charge that has defined his play over the past year.
Third new No. 1 of 2018
Koepka is the third player to reach No. 1 for the first time this year, along with Justin Thomas and Justin Rose. The last time that kind of turmoil at the top of the standings happened was 1997, when Woods, Tom Lehman and Ernie Els each took a turn at the top spot. And like Woods many years ago, Koepka appears primed to hold onto the No. 1 ranking for quite some time.
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