Brooks Koepka holds a remarkable seven-shot lead after 36 holes of the US PGA Championship and is threatening to triumph in a manner rarely seen in golf’s biggest events.
After opening the tournament with a course-record 63 at Bethpage Black, Koepka carded a 65 on Friday to lead by a whopping seven strokes at 12 under. His aggregate score of 128 is the lowest recorded in majors.
The 29-year-old American now has a golden opportunity to retain his PGA crown and earn a fourth major title in the space of two years.
With Koepka on course to record a dominant victory, Omnisport takes a look at the biggest margins of victory at each major (since they have been played over 72 holes).
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 18, 2019
US PGA CHAMPIONSHIP – EIGHT STROKES (Rory McIlroy, 2012)
Two of McIlroy’s four major victories to date have been runaway successes.
He won the 2011 U.S. Open by eight shots and repeated the feat in the following year’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island to set a new record in the event, one that now appears seriously under threat from Koepka.
In 2012, McIlroy was two off the pace after 36 holes but opened up a three-stroke lead in a third round interrupted by thunderstorms.
The final day then turned into a procession as McIlroy carded a superb 66 to reach 13 under, with England’s David Lynn a distant second at minus five.
THE OPEN – EIGHT STROKES (J.H. Taylor, 1900, 1913; James Braid, 1908; Tiger Woods, 2000)
Old Tom Morris triumphed by 13 strokes in the Open Championship of 1862, but that tournament was a 36-hole affair, as were the 1869 and 1870 events when Young Tom Morris won by 11 and 12 shots respectively.
The 72-hole record is shared by Taylor, Braid and Woods. Taylor twice won by eight in 1900 and 1913 at St. Andrews and Royal Liverpool, with Braid doing likewise at Prestwick in 1908
Woods equalled that margin with a history-making performance in 2000, during a period of unparalleled dominance that yielded four successive major victories – the ‘Tiger Slam’.
A Woods victory looked inevitable at St. Andrews when he led by three at the halfway stage and he duly streaked further clear to finish on 19 under. That score stood as a record in majors for 15 years and also saw Woods complete the career Grand Slam at the age of 24.
THE MASTERS – TWELVE STROKES (Tiger Woods, 1997)
Twenty-two years prior to his remarkable success at this year’s Masters and the culmination of a stunning comeback from career-threatening injuries, Woods pulled off a truly astonishing performance at Augusta.
Tiger was four over after nine holes but recovered to shoot 70 on day one, before sensationally surging clear of the field with rounds of 66 and 65.
A closing 69 took Woods to a total of 18 under, a scoring record later equalled by Jordan Spieth in 2015, and victory by a dozen shots. At that point, nobody had ever won by such a margin in a 72-hole major.
Tiger Woods’ 15 majors:
1999 PGA Championship
2000 U.S. Open
2000 The Open
2000 PGA Championship
2002 U.S. Open
2005 The Open
2006 The Open
2006 PGA Championship
2007 PGA Championship
2008 U.S. Open
2019 Masters#LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/ZPsB0CUTsW
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) 14 April 2019
THE U.S. OPEN – FIFTEEN STROKES (Tiger Woods, 2000)
Incredibly, Woods would go on to record an even bigger win in 2000, as Pebble Beach – the venue for this year’s U.S. Open – played host to the most dominant major performance in history.
Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ernie Els shared second on three over par, illustrating the challenging conditions on the links course.
Woods, however, was operating on an entirely different level and cruised to a 12-under total to prevail by a frankly ridiculous 15 strokes.
No one has come close to winning in such a fashion since, but that may be about to change on the evidence of Koepka’s first 36 holes at Bethpage.