Elite athletes get motivation from a lot of different sources. For Brooks Koepka, he seems to draw some fire from what he perceives as a lack of due respect.
He was ticked early in the U.S. Open when his score, as the defending champion, was not listed among the "notables" in summing up the first round. The man had a point.
I guess he's got some more motivation. After he won the PGA Championship on Sunday, his second major of the season to go with his successful defence of his U.S. Open title and the third major of his career, most of the talk was about Tiger Woods' magnificent 64 on Sunday.
"Other than me, my team, everybody was rooting for Tiger," Koepka said. "It kind of pushes you to step up your game."
Koepka did that in his typically expressionless style, crushing it off the tee and making putts.
Koepka's right about everybody rooting for Woods. It's no reflection on Koepka because it wouldn't have mattered who Woods was chasing, people were tuning in to watch the red-shirted one. The television ratings were up 69 percent over last year's final round of the PGA Championship. They were the highest ratings for the PGA since 2009 when Y.E. Yang became the one and only guy to beat Woods after Woods entered the final round of a major withe the lead.
Nobody can put a charge into golf like Woods. I think it's because he's been a polarizing figure, so he draws from both ends of the spectrum: those who root against him for his controversial off-course misadventures and those who simply think he's the GOAT and want him to continue his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' total of 18 major titles.
For a few hours on Sunday, it was like the good old days, but with a bit of a twist: Woods was fist pumping and, for a change, climbing the leaderboard. In all of his previous major victories, Woods led going into the final round (I kept thinking about his bogey-double bogey start to the tournament).
This never gets old:
There's nothing quite like a Tiger fist pump. pic.twitter.com/MEHWX5y0j7— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) August 13, 2018
Any doubt about whether Woods has the game to win a major again was erased Sunday. It was his best golf since his peak in the early 2000s and gave new golf fans a glimpse of what us older fans used to enjoy on a regular basis.
It's something special and enjoy it while you can. Woods is going to be 43 in December and you have to wonder how many performances like the one Sunday he has left in him.
Koepka, meanwhile, looks like a guy who has a lot more performances in him like the one he had Sunday.
There might not be a longer, straight driver of the ball since Greg Norman. Koepka hit almost 70 percent of fairways (he ranked T26 in driving accuracy for the week) and was second in driving distance (his longest drives of each round: 348, 336, 346 and 338).
He plays with a chip on his shoulder which can take a guy a long way.
It's allowed him to join some pretty exclusive company: the only other players to have won both the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship in the same year are Woods, Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan.
This is a pretty good time for golf as it heads into the playoffs and the Ryder Cup and a new schedule next season. Koepka has shouldered his way to front of a pack of incredibly fit young stars and Woods, the idol for most of them, has got the game to hang with them.
FROM THE FRINGE: I liked this note from Guy Yocum of Golf Digest from May, 2015. It's quoting caddie Steve Williams, Woods' and Adam Scott's former looper: "Once in a while, a player comes along who hits a golf ball the way it was meant to be hit. Powerful, piercing, the perfect trajectory. Of the young players out there, one I've seen has that special ball flight: Brooks Koepka. Adam and I were paired with him at The Open Championship last year and from his first tee shot on, I thought: This kid is special. Obviously he's searching to find the other parts of the puzzle, but I haven't seen a ball flight like that since Tiger, and before that, Johnny Miller." That was three years ago. Williams has a pretty good eye for talent. ... Rideau View member Brad Fritsch will be back on the European Tour this week at the Nordea Masters at the Hills G.C. in Gothenburg, Sweden. He'll have some local support: former Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is expected to check out his practice round Tuesday. Fritsch finished tied for 64th in the Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada ATB Financial Classic in Calgary Sunday after rounds of 68-69-75-73. ... It was a return to the winner's circle for the men's and women's club champions at Rideau View on Sunday. Kristin Stauffer, the champ in 2015, won by seven shots over the 2017 champion, Julia Malone. Stauffer had rounds of 74-78-78-230. In the men's division, 2016 winner Tim Sullivan won by eight over Griffin Jones. Sullivan won with rounds of 69-73-72-214. ... Amateur Grace St. Germain of Ottawa and pro Augusta James of Bath are two players among 14 Canadians granted exemptions into the CP Canadian Women's Open next week in Saskatchewan. ... There's going to be a strong Canadian contingent at the U.S. Amateur this week at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill. NHL referee Garrett Rank is one of 10 Canadians in the field. ... Brooke and Brittany Henderson, after saying goodbye to a loved one for the second time this summer (grandfather Clem Henderson, Dave's dad, passed away last week after losing grandfather Bob Moir in June) will be back in action at the LPGA stop in Indianapolis this week.