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It was a lot closer than he, and likely everyone else, would have expected; but Brooks Koepka was able to defend his PGA Championship title at Bethpage Black, finishing two strokes ahead of challenger Dustin Johnson. Koepka became only the second golfer since 1958 to win consecutive PGA Championships (Tiger Woods did it in 2006 and 2007). He is also the first to hold back-to-back titles at two different majors, as he has also won two consecutive US Open Championships.
Even when his lead, which started off at seven strokes going into Sunday, was down to one with four holes left to play, the result never seemed to be in much doubt. Koepka’s dominance throughout this tournament, and his four majors won in just under a two-year span beg the question: Could he be the next golfer to complete the Career Grand Slam?
It’s a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Tiger Woods won The Open Championship in 2000, and only six golfers throughout history have been able to pull it off. Three active golfers have currently won three of the four major tournaments needed to complete the Career Slam, and all of them have come close to completing it as well. Rory McIlroy settled for fourth at the 2015 Masters, Jordan Spieth finished second at the same season’s PGA Championship, and Phil Mickelson has finished second in the US Open on six different occasions.
As for Koepka, he has only won the two aforementioned majors, but he only finished one stroke behind Tiger Woods at The Masters in April, and has two top-ten finishes at The Open Championship to his name. Of his six career PGA Tour wins, four of them are majors.
The next opportunity for a Career Slam to be completed is only a month away, as Phil Mickelson will aim for his first US Open win at Pebble Beach from June 13th-16th. Koepka is currently the betting favorite for the tournament, an event no one has won three straight times since 1903-05.
If he manages to win The Open Championship in Northern Ireland in July, then all eyes will be on next year’s Masters. In that case, both Koepka and McIlroy will have a chance for the Career Slam at Augusta National. Two top-five golfers going head-to-head for a chance at history at one of the most historic courses would be a treat for anyone to watch. But first, there are still two majors left in this season. Based on Koepka’s current form in winning four of the last eight majors he’s played in, you wouldn’t bet against him winning any of the next few.
Image Credit: Peter Foley/UPI