Brooks Koepka Shoots 63 in First Round, Becomes Heavy Favorite in PGA Championship

Posted on: May 17, 2019, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: May 16, 2019, 07:06h.

Brooks Koepka outshined playing partner Tiger Woods, shooting a course-record 63 to take the lead after one round of the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.

Brooks Koepka PGA Championship
Brooks Koepka shot a 7-under 63 to take the early lead at the 2019 PGA Championship. (Image: Mike Ehrmann)

Koepka sits along in first place at seven-under par, one shot ahead of Danny Lee.

Koepka Shines After Hot Start for Tiger

Koepka shot a bogey-free round, hitting 14 of 18 greens in regulation and putting just 25 times on his way to an impressive first round performance.

“I’ve never been this confident,” Koepka told reporters after his round. “I understand a lot more about my misses, where to hit it, and major championships I just suck it up. You don’t always have to aim at the flag like you do in regular events. Sometimes it’s just about how few bogeys and doubles you make this week.”

Early on, however, it looked as though it would be Woods who would steal the show yet again. Tiger started out with birdies on the first two holes, then eagled the par-5 fourth hole to sit at four-under.

The magic didn’t last. A bogey on five brought Woods back to earth, and two more on seven and eight left him at a solid 1-under-par for the front nine.

That still could have set Tiger up for a strong round. But he failed to birdie a hole on the back nine, and instead took a bogey and two double bogeys to end up at a 2-over-par 72. That put the Masters winner in a tie for 51st place, nine shots back of Koepka.

“The golf course is playing tough,” Woods told reporters. “It’s not that hard to make bogeys out here, but it’s hard to make birdies.”

Koepka Heavily Favored After Round 1

Woods also had plenty of praise for Koepka, saying the leader’s round could have been even better, and that 63 was “the worst he could have shot.”

“He played well,” Woods said. “He had a couple of putts he didn’t make.”

That’s a tough but fair assessment, as Koepka agreed that he had missed several opportunities.

“I didn’t take care of the par-5s, didn’t birdie any of the par-5s,” Koepka said. “And then the second hole today, my 11th hole, I missed about a 5-footer. That would have been nice to shoot 60. I guess that would have been pretty good.”

Combined with Koepka’s pedigree – he has won three majors since 2017 – his big first round has made him the clear favorite to win the PGA Championship. At FanDuel Sportsbook, Koepka is now a +150 first choice to win the tournament.

Next on the list is Dustin Johnson (+1000), who shot one-under-par to sit in a tie for ninth place. Tommy Fleetwood (+1300) has also moved up the board; the English golfer currently sits alone in third place at 3-under.

Despite the fact that he sits along in second place, Lee (+3600) isn’t getting much respect from bettors just yet. And unfortunately for anyone who might make millions if he wins the Grand Slam this year, Tiger (+4600) is close to having played himself out of contention after the first round.

Other notable names on the leaderboard include Rickie Fowler (+2100), Jordan Spieth (+4200), Jason Day (+2100), and Phil Mickelson (+7000), each of whom shot a 1-under-par 69 in the first round.