Historic is one word to describe it.
Breathtaking is another.
However, there are just so many words that can be said about Brooks Koepka’s Bethpage Black course record of 63 today, to lead the pack at 7-under, opening the PGA Championship.
“I’m not thinking about it,” he said. “I’m just going about my business. You know, you’d love to make it more difficult for them. You know, it’s always nice being out ahead. I don’t think it’s happened to me that often where I’ve got a, what is it, three, four-shot lead over the field as of right now. But that’s — you take a hole off, it could change very quickly out here. So you’ve just got to keep the pedal down.”
Oh to add to the madness, Koepka becomes the first player to post two 63s at the PGA.
It was that kind of day. The weather cooperated and Koepka, who was paired with Tiger Woods (+2) and Italian Francesco Molinari (+2) just had that kind of day, ending it with a long birdie on the ninth hole.
“Just make it,” he said. “I think that was the only thing that was going through my head. It turned a little right to left, pretty flat. I had good reads on it all day. The speed control was very solid. I felt very comfortable with the putter after a couple of changes we made, and very pleased with the way I putted today.”
Given the difficulty of this course and the history it has wreaking havoc on rounds, Koepka should be proud of his final tally. Funny thing is, he thinks he could do much better than the 63.
And frankly he might.
“I didn’t take care of the par-5s, didn’t birdie any of the par-5s,” Koepka said. “That was disappointing because I felt like you know those are holes you should be able to birdie. Definitely can reach, what is it, 4 and just hit a bad drive there. And then 13 I can get there, too, I just hit it in the bunker. And then the second hole today, my 11th hole, I missed about a five-footer. That would have been nice to shoot 60. I guess that would have been pretty good.”
Sure it would be Brooks. Maybe that’s what makes a champion. Everyone was focused on Woods and No. 1 seed Dustin Johnson coming into this tournament, where they probably should focus on Koepka. After all, he won this tournament last August and also was the last man standing in Shinnecock at the US Open last June.
Today, he is top of the leaderboard again and only a great round by New Zealand’s Danny Lee (-6) keeps it from being a blowout. But there are 36 more holes to go and anything can happen.
Yet, it’s tough to be against Brooks here. He has the championship pedigree and frankly steps it up when playing in the majors.
And now, he definitely has the upper hand.
“That was one of the best rounds I’ve played probably as a professional,” he said. “This golf course is brutal. If you’re not going to drive it, like I said, it tests every asset of your game. You’ve got to drive the ball straight. It’s long, so you’ve got to hit it far and really position yourself with some of these shots in. You can’t miss — you can’t take a shot off, and that’s what I love. It reminds me — I think that’s why I play so well at U.S. Opens, this golf course, typical U.S. Open golf course. I mean, if you don’t have a good day, you can very easily shoot 5, 6-over. There’s a fine line between 5, 6-over and a couple under out here. It’s a fun golf course to play, that’s for sure.”
Yes, you saw history today.