2023 PGA Championship: Can Koepka Close it Out?

PGA: Charles Schwab Challenge - Second Round

The PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, New York, is delivering a captivating mix of storylines for fans who have endured the rain-soaked conditions. As we head into Sunday’s final round, there are several compelling narratives to keep an eye on.

Can Koepka Close It Out?

One of the main storylines revolves around Brooks Koepka, who has always emphasized the importance of major championships. Despite battling injuries, including knee surgery in 2021, Koepka won four majors from 2017 to 2019. Now healthy and brimming with confidence, he finds himself back in familiar territory, leading a major heading into the final round. After an initial 2-over 72, Koepka responded with impressive back-to-back rounds of 66 on Friday and Saturday, placing him at 6-under and holding the outright lead. Having experienced a 54-hole lead slip away at the Masters last month, Koepka will be eager to apply those lessons and secure his third Wanamaker Trophy.

“I promise I won’t show up like [the Masters] tomorrow,” he said following the round. “I won’t have that thought process. It’ll be completely different and we’ll see where it puts me.”

Will History Be Made?

In the chase behind Koepka, two international players are vying for their first major titles: Corey Conners and Viktor Hovland.

Conners, hailing from Canada, held the lead for a significant portion of the day before a bunker mishap on the 16th hole resulted in a costly double bogey. He and Hovland find themselves just one shot behind Koepka, setting up an exciting final round.

Conners enjoys a strong support system in Rochester, as the city is located only 90 miles from the Canadian border and a mere 214 miles from his hometown of Listowel, Ontario. Canadian fans will be eagerly watching as Conners strives to become just the second major champion from their country, following in the footsteps of Mike Weir, who won the 2003 Masters.

On the other hand, Hovland has the opportunity to make history as the first Norwegian to secure a major victory. He has already made his mark by becoming the first player from Norway to win a PGA Tour event at the 2020 Puerto Rico Open. Since then, Hovland has claimed two more PGA Tour victories, solidifying his status as a rising star in the world of golf. Given his talent and trajectory, it wouldn’t be surprising to witness Hovland triumph and secure the biggest win of his career thus far.

With Conners and Hovland in hot pursuit, the stage is set for a captivating final round as they seek to fulfill their dreams of capturing a major championship.

Rory Hanging Around

Rory McIlroy, known for his resilience in challenging weather conditions, has proven his ability to thrive amid difficult circumstances. The Northern Irishman has claimed two PGA Championship titles, both achieved in harsh conditions. His victories came in 2012 at Kiawah Island in South Carolina and in 2014 at Valhalla in Louisville, Kentucky.

Despite battling an illness this week, McIlroy displayed his determination by carding a solid 69 in Saturday’s round, bringing him to 1-under overall and positioning him in seventh place on the leaderboard.

McIlroy now sets his sights on securing his fifth major championship title, aiming to break his drought since his last triumph in 2014. With his track record of success in adverse weather and his undeniable talent, McIlroy remains a strong contender heading into the final round of the PGA Championship.

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