Brooks Koepka falling off the pace midway through the final round
His bid for three straight PGA Championships is in jeopardy
With PGA Championship history firmly in his sights Sunday at TPC Harding Park, many expected Brooks Koepka to mount an early charge up the leaderboard.
After all, he was in a similar situation at last year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, starting the final round three shots back of Gary Woodland. He opened with birdies on four of his first five holes to make a run at a third straight U.S. Open title that ultimately fell short.
There was no repeat of the early fireworks Sunday, though.
Koepka, who started the day two shots back of Dustin Johnson at 7-under-par, burned the left edge with a birdie putt at No. 1 to open with a par.
Then, the two-time defending champion started stumbling back at No. 2.
He found the fairway off the tee, but his approach shot came up short and left of the green. His chip left him 24 feet for par, but he couldn’t get the putt to drop, falling back to 6-under.
After a par at No. 3, Koepka’s tee shot on the Par-5 fourth sailed left into the rough forcing him to chop his second back into the fairway. He was unable to stick his approach shot close, though, finding the middle of the green for a two-putt par from 34 feet.
Koepka couldn’t build any momentum as long birdie putts at No. 5 and No. 6 both missed by inches, and he finished his front nine by dropping three shots with consecutive bogeys at Nos. 7, 8 and 9.
He made the turn at 3-under-par, seven shots back of Dustin Johnson and Cameron Champ at 10-under.
The back nine has been very gettable Sunday, and Jordan Spieth said he believed someone could shoot 30 coming in.
It will take a massive effort on the back nine for Koepka to win his third straight PGA Championship title.