Is Brooks Koepka The New Tiger Woods?

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The PGA Championship, one of pro golf’s four major tournaments, was held this past week. The world’s  #1 golfer, 29-year-old Brooks Koepka, went wire to wire and took home the trophy, making it look easy as he built a seven-stroke lead heading into Sunday’s final round.

He did everything right in his first three rounds: hit fairways, stayed out of trouble and made putts. He oozed composure and confidence as he turned New York’s Bethpage Black, site of the tournament, into a pedestrian track.

Although he struggled with windy conditions and gave away most of his lead in Sunday’s round, he was able to keep his head and hold off Dustin Johnson to take home his fourth major championship with a two-stroke victory.

After Sunday’s victory, Koepka has won four of the last eight majors. That is simply an astonishing feat. Think about this: Only 19 players have won five or more majors in their entire CAREERS, and he has four in the last two years.

Winning majors at this rate raises the question of where he ranks among the all-time great golfers. Yes, he is young, and comparisons are basically moot at this point, but what the heck. We have not seen a winner of big tournaments at this rate since Tiger Woods won seven majors between 1999 and 2002.

So, is Koepka the new Tiger?

For me, yes and no.

When talking about the all-time greats, at the top of the list is Jack Nicklaus and Tiger. Close behind are the likes of Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Gary Player, among others.

Jack and Tiger have a combined 33 majors with Tiger (15) still chasing The Golden Bear’s record 18 wins. Had injuries and controversy not derailed Tiger, all of golf’s big records would most likely already be his. It just shows the difficulty of achieving consistent success in golf.

Tiger’s numbers blow your mind: 81 tour wins, 15 majors and over $118 million in career winnings. He has 31 top-five finishes in the majors and has won the Masters five times, including this year’s event. He completed the career grand slam (all four majors) at the age of 24.

This article could drag on forever if I listed all his records and accomplishments; it’s just flat-out unprecedented. And he’s only 43 years old.

For Koepka, the early numbers are equally impressive, factoring in that he’s been a pro golfer for just seven years. He won his first major at the U.S. Open in 2018 and followed that up with at win at the PGA. This year he ALSO won the U.S. Open and PGA. His successful defense of the PGA Championship this year made him the first golfer in history to hold two major titles back-to-back simultaneously. He already has six PGA Tour wins and 13 wins worldwide. Again, all in just seven years.

Watching Koepka swing the club does remind me of Tiger in his early years; smooth and flowing with incredible power and accuracy. He makes it looks so natural. A young Tiger did the same thing. He was longer than most everyone else on tour and made every putt he looked at.

While Tiger racked up win after win and major after major, the talent on tour was nowhere near what it is now. There are so many young, impressive golfers out there (thanks in part to Tiger’s success), it makes what Koepka is doing that much more impressive. You have to keep an eye on Johnson, Jordan Speith, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Justin Rose, Rory McIlory to name a few. The tour is brimming with outstanding ball strikers.

Koepka is hot right now. Hot as it gets. When Tiger was on top, he was untouchable. We’ll see if Koepka can sustain the success like Tiger was able to on his way to setting all those records.

From what I see, Koepka has the makeup to give Tiger a run for his money, but we shouldn’t get too caught up in comparisons just yet. Let’s just enjoy the ride for now and see where it takes us. It’s going to be fun to watch.

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About Author

John D. Hunter is Montana native but grew up in the Tacoma/Seattle area and proudly attended Washington State University. He is a former morning show producer on KJR SportsRadio in Seattle. For 7 years he produced ‘Knight in the Morning’ with Michael Knight and New York Vinnie. From there he moved to ESPN.com where he spent another 7 years as an Interactive Editor and Soccer reporter/writer. He has covered 3 Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, 1998 World Cup in France and many more sporting events.

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