ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Triple major winner Brooks Koepka has fans, but they were few and far between in the final round at the PGA Championship on Sunday.
A charge by Tiger Woods, playing two groups ahead, had sucked the oxygen out of the atmosphere surrounding the final pairing of Koepka and Adam Scott, who played in almost funereal silence by comparison at Bellerive.
“Tiger’s coming,” yelled one of the few spectators who bothered hanging around to watch Koepka and Scott after the 14-times major champion had been through.
The fan was not exactly wrong, but it hardly fazed the under-appreciated Koepka.
Despite one of the most powerful swings in the game, an unflappable temperament and now three major titles, one less than Rory McIlroy, the same as Jordan Spieth and two more than world number one Dustin Johnson, he is rarely mentioned among the game’s A-listers.
Whether Sunday’s two-stroke victory over Tiger Woods changes the way the 28-year-old is perceived is an open question.
“I try to acknowledge all the fans as much as I can but there’s always going to be people that hate you, but you’ve just got to move on and use that as motivation,” said the American.
“The people around me, they know who I am, and that’s really all I care about.”
Few people actually dislike Koepka, but apathy is a more appropriate description of how most golf fans view him.
No matter what, it was difficult not to be impressed with the way he responded to the challenges of Woods and third-placed Scott with birdies at the 15th and 16th holes that proved the difference in the end.
“I have a lot of self belief,” said Koepka, struggling to recall having ever been rattled on the course.
“Even today, I knew when everyone was making that charge that if I just hung in there I was going to have a chance to separate myself a little bit.”
Koepka has only one non-major PGA Tour title on his resume, but Australia’s Scott said that was not the worst thing in the world.
“I’ve heard some frustration that he hasn’t won a lot of other tournaments, but he’s won three majors now, so he’s definitely winning the right ones,” said Scott.
“If I was him, I wouldn’t change much at the moment. I’d just keep doing what he’s doing because he’s showing up at the right moments in the biggest events.
“I can see he’s got that mindset. There’s something inside his brain that makes him believe that that’s what he’s destined to do.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury