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Stephen Gallacher: Brooks Koepka showed he remains a class act as he claims fifth major

Ryder Cup place now within PGA Championship winner's sights following Oak Hill triumph.

Brooks Koepka holds the Wanamaker trophy after winning the PGA Championship. Image: PA
Brooks Koepka holds the Wanamaker trophy after winning the PGA Championship. Image: PA

Form may be temporary but Brooks Koepka showed class is permanent with an outstanding display to win the PGA Championship on Sunday.

I watched every shot on Sunday and the standard of golf on display was phenomenal with Koepka leading the way with a fabulous round.

He was disappointed with how he approached the final round of the Masters last month as he went from having a four-shot lead to losing out to Jon Rahm.

But his approach at Oak Hill was outstanding.

He played relentless, aggressive golf to win his fifth major. Only 20 people have won five so he’s in esteemed company.

It has been a tough couple of years for Koepka with a horrendous knee injury suffered at home in 2021 halting his momentum.

He was in a low place back then but he has worked his way back to become the outstanding talent we’ve all known him to be and his performance in New York was brilliant.

Viktor Hovland pushed him all the way as best he could while Scottie Scheffler tried his best too but after what happened at Augusta Koepka would not be denied a second time.

Koepka, of course, plays his golf on the LIV circuit these days and some fans were quick to make their feelings known as they booed both him and Bryson DeChambeau during their opening round on Thursday.

But both men played well to the point they won over the gallery by turning the jeers into cheers with the golf they played.

Koepka now a Ryder Cup contender

Koepka has also put himself firmly in the running to make the US Ryder Cup team by winning the second major of the year.

The PGA of America has been consistent in stating any player who amasses enough ranking points to make the team is eligible to play in Rome.

US captain Zach Johnson has been reluctant to discuss the matter too much but Koepka is now second of the US points list.

US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson.

He cannot be ignored now – and I’d suggest Dustin Johnson will be in the frame too.

The spectre of LIV Golf has loomed large over the Ryder Cup since its formation and this year’s match, the first since they started running, was always going to be intriguing because of the politics involved.

Managing the personalities involved is going to be fascinating.

I can only speak of my own experience at Gleneagles. On day one the first thing our captain Paul McGinley said was ‘leave your egos at the door. It’s them against us and this week we’re 12 individuals playing as a team to win.’

This scenario has been the elephant in the room for some time and Koepka’s win on Sunday has drawn attention to it and at this stage it looks more likely for the United States than Europe.

But I expect it is going to take unbelievable man-management skills from the respective captains if we do have LIV members playing in either team in September.

Fairytale finish for PGA professional Michael Block

Michael Block acknowledges the crowd on the 18th hole after his final round of the PGA Championship. Image: PA

The crowning of a new PGA champion was the headline story from Oak Hill.

But there is no doubt what the fairytale was.

Step forward Michael Block.

The 46-year-old PGA professional had a memorable week as he finished tied for 15th and he recorded his first tournament hole-in-one while playing alongside Rory McIlroy in his final round on Sunday.

To use a football analogy it was like seeing a Highland League player taking part and scoring in a Champions League final.

Block’s remarkable week in New York has not ended there though.

No sooner had he finished his final round that the tournament director at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas was on the phone to offer him an invited to compete in this week’s PGA Tour event, the Charles Schwab Challenge.

His performance at Oak Hill has guaranteed a place in the field for next year’s championship at Valhalla in Kentucky.

Seeing Rory hug him at the end of their round reminded me why I love this game so much.

I’ve been banging on about this for the last year but golf is going through a period where there has been so much acrimony and politics that the game has been in the news sections rather than the back page of newspapers.

But tales like the one Block provided are what this game is all about.

Back on the road – and it feels great

It feels so good to be able to plan out my schedule again.

I’m in the Netherlands this week for the KLM Open and I’m thrilled to be back.

Bernardus Golf is one of the best courses and facilities around and it has always been an enjoyable experience to play here.

Following this week I’m planning on playing in Sweden and Denmark, and hope to be at the British Masters and the Scottish Open.

Just being able to make plans feels like a blessing after an uncertain first four months of the year.

Even the events I’ve been fortunate enough to play in have been challenging due to only being able to play in one a month or having short notice of an invite to go and play.

Life on tour is hard enough without going in cold against your peers who are playing regularly on tough courses.

It takes time to get into a rhythm and I’m hoping the chance to play regularly at this level in the weeks and months ahead will enable me to do just that.