PGA Championship - Final Round
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A 4-over round leaves him 10 shots back in his bid to win three straight at TPC Harding Park

In the end, history was not to be for Brooks Koepka.

The two-time defending PGA champion entered Sunday’s final round at TPC Harding Park two shots back of 54-hole leader Dustin Johnson with a chance to become the first player to win three straight PGA titles since Walter Hagen won four in a row from 1924-27.

But there’s a reason only three players have won the same major in three consecutive years since 1882 – winning majors isn’t as easy as Koepka has made it look over the past three years.

On Sunday, TPC Harding Park got the best of him as he shot a 4-over-74 to finish the championship at 3-under-par, 10 shots back of champion Collin Morikawa.

“Every time I hit it in the rough today, I got probably the worst lie I've had all week,” Koepka said after his round. “You know, if you're going to put it in the rough out here, it's pretty tough. The green speeds this weekend I never really got down. I felt like the putting green was a little bit quicker. And just never quite got putts to the hole to make anything. So, you don't do that, it’s going to be tough.”

Koepka entered the final round at last year’s U.S. Open in a similar position, three shots back of Gary Woodland with a chance to win three straight U.S. Opens. He opened the round at Pebble Beach by birdieing four of his first five holes to rachet up the tension.

Unfortunately for Koepka, there were no such early fireworks on Sunday by Lake Merced.

Koepka 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.

After making the turn at 4-over for the day, Koepka knew his shot at a third straight Wanamaker Trophy was over.

“Yeah, to be honest, the bogey on two was not good,” Koepka said when asked about his tough front nine. “But to make the turn at 4-over was disappointing, to say the least. You know, you knew you had to be under par, at least one, to have a good chance on the back side. I mean, it's my first bad round in a while in a major. You know, I was just there to cheer Paul [Casey] on. That was it. Just try to help him get it in the house and see how well he could finish, because I had put myself out of it already.”

Koepka has been on an unprecedented major run over the past few years.

The two-time champion was disappointed with his Sunday showing, but also left TPC Harding Park impressed by the play of the 23-year-old Morikawa, who bested a stacked leaderboard to earn his first major championship.

“He's a hell of a player,” Koepka said of Morikawa, who shot a dazzling 6-under-par 64 to claim the title. “He's really good. … For this week, it's impressive. This golf course, you really have to golf your ball and make some putts. He was obviously the best at that, and that's impressive. You know, to win a major this young in your career, he's got a lot of upside.”

For two years, Koepka was a worthy PGA champion.

His run at history came up short, just as Tiger Woods’ did in 2001 when he finished 14 strokes back of David Toms in his attempt to join Hagen in the record books.

Koepka now can turn his gaze to starting a new run beginning at the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. 

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