Brooks Koepka Isn’t Back Because He Never Left, Michael Block Steals The Show, No More PGA Championship Slander Allowed, Ryder Cup Thoughts

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Brooks Koepka squashed plenty of narratives with his PGA Championship win at Oak Hill on Sunday, but the idea that he’s now ‘back’ seems disingenuine as that implies he ever left in the first place. He now has five major championships to his name, one more than Rory McIlroy, and he’s officially solidified himself as a generational great.

While Koepka was the story of the week at the PGA Championship, Michael Block having the greatest four-day stretch of his 46 years on Earth was a close second. Someone in Hollywood may be writing up a script for ‘The Block Party In Rochester’ as we speak.

The slander of the PGA Championship can’t be tolerated anymore, not after Koepka hoisted his third Wanamaker Trophy and the wild run we’ve had in what many deem ‘the forgotten major.’

We also need to have words about the Ryder Cup. The event may still be four months away, but the storylines are already shaping up ahead of the trip to Italy.

The PGA Championship’s Track Record Is Incredibly Underrated

Brooks Koepka winning his third PGA Championship in five years is the stuff of legends, but you could argue that his win at Oak Hill was the least exciting PGA Championship finish over the last seven years.

Brooks Koepka is now a five-time major champion.
Brooks Koepka is now a five-time major champion with three PGA Championships to his name. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Last year Justin Thomas began the final round seven shots back and won his second PGA after beating Will Zalatoris in a playoff. In 2021, Phil Mickelson came out of nowhere at Kiawah and took down Koepka to become the oldest major champion in the history of the sport. The year prior we witnessed Colin Morikawa walk it off in San Francisco with one of the greatest shots in the history of the sport.

Add in Thomas earning his first major title in 2017 and back-to-back wins from Koepka in 2018 and 2019 with battles alongside Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods and you could say that the PGA Championship is batting .1000 when it comes to delivering appointment viewing golf.

The only other major you could point to that’s delivered on a more consistent basis over the last seven years is the Masters given the weight Woods’ win carries in 2019, but if you take that away the PGA Championship has been the top dog among major championships for quite some time.

Let’s Cool It On The ‘Brooks Koepka Is Back’ Talk

It’s so easy to say ‘they’re back’ whenever the media claims a player is going through a bit of a drought, but I’m not so sure that’s what we should be calling Koepka’s last 18 months or so.

Seeing as how Koepka won four majors over the span of eight starts we selfishly expected him to continue on that sort of pace even though we hadn’t seen a player win at that rate since early 2000s Tiger Woods.


From a pure winning perspective, Koepka went nearly four years without finding the winner’s circle and his four major starts in 2022 were downright awful for his standards, but when you look at his last three and a half years of work in majors it’s hard to say he ever ‘left.’

In 2019, the year he last won on Tour, Koepka won the PGA Championship and was beaten by exactly five players in the other three major championships that year. In the COVID-plagued year of 2020, he started things off with a T-7 finish at the Masters and T-29 at the PGA Championships. In 2021 he missed the cut at Augusta then rattled off Top Six finishes in the final three majors of the year.

Brooks Koepka Kills Multiple Narratives With Third PGA Championship Win
Brooks Koepka isn’t back, because he’s never left. (Getty Images)

Koepka simply slowed down in 2022 as he dealt with injuries, which isn’t out of the norm, and a jump to LIV Golf. The narrative that he left the game and essentially forgot how to hit a golf ball for a while isn’t fair, nor is it accurate.

In his last 22 major starts he’s won five times and finished inside the Top 10 on nine other occasions.

We measure a player’s success on major championship wins. Koepka now has five to his name compared to McIlroy’s four, yet very few would claim ‘Rory McIlroy Is Back’ if he were to end his nine-year run without a major.

Michael Block Lived Out A Dream On One Of Golf’s Biggest Stages

Michael Block began the 2023 PGA Championship as a no-name club pro with absolutely zero expectations who most would have predicted he’d be missing the cut at Oak Hill.

Well, the game of golf makes absolutely no sense, which is why we all love it, and instead of trunk slamming on Friday Block finished in a tie for 15th after 72 magical holes.

Block became a fan favorite on Thursday when he did a walking interview with Scott Van Pelt and ESPN before posting even in the opening round. Even then it felt too good to be true, but then he rattled off two more rounds of even par and this went from being a story at the PGA to arguably the story at the PGA.

Block got to play alongside one of his favorite players in Justin Rose on Saturday then got to walk 18 holes with McIlroy on Sunday. The ovation for Block on the opening tee was louder than McIlroy’s was as the Rochester fans adopted him as their own all week, but then the magic came full circle with his slam-dunk hole-in-one on the Par 3 15th hole.

With his T-15 finish, Block punched his ticket to next year’s PGA Championship and has also been invited to play in this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge and the RBC Canadian Open two weeks later.

While the hole-in-one and many times he got emotional speaking with the media throughout the week caught the headlines, what caught my attention from Block was him shouting out the other 29,000 PGA professionals around the country he was representing and playing for.

As a brother to a PGA professional and knowing how hard every single one of those 29,000 pros bust their asses every single day, Block taking a few seconds to mention them was pretty special.

The U.S. Ryder Cup Drama Has Already Begun

It took all of about 12 minutes before the talk of Koepka’s PGA Championship win from him being an all-time great to what this means for this year’s Ryder Cup in Rome.

Brandel Chamblee made it clear that he doesn’t believe Koepka or any other LIV golfer should represent the United States in the Ryder Cup before Brad Faxon disrupted his argument and left the Golf Channel analyst speechless for the first time in his career.

While Chamblee, Faxon, and plenty of others will continue to go back and forth with who deserves what and what U.S. captain Zach Johnson should do before September’s event, there is a fact of the matter in all of this.

The PGA of America has officially stated that Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, and any other American hopefuls on LIV Golf are eligible to represent their country this Fall.

With his win at Oak Hill and T-2 finish at the Masters in April, Koepka sits second in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings as of May 22. He’ll only be able to earn more Ryder Cup points with his play at the U.S. Open and Open championship, but barring catastrophic finishes those two weeks, Koepka may have mathematically earned his way onto the team.

Even if you put the numbers aside, nobody who doesn’t have an anti-LIV agenda can argue that Koepka isn’t deserving of a spot. There are not 12 other American golfers on the planet better than Koepka, and if Johnson is tasked with using a captain’s pick on Koepka he shouldn’t even think about hesitating.

Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris

Written by Mark Harris

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