FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – Brooks Koepka’s opening 63 at Bethpage State Park’s vaunted Black Course was not the lowest major score. That record belongs to Branden Grace’s 62 at Royal Birkdale in 2017.
But a deeper look at the numbers suggests Koepka’s 2019 first round is in the upper half of the 33 rounds of 63 posted in majors, all because of something Koepka failed to do: birdie one of Bethpage’s two par-5s.
The par-5 4th is playing as Bethpage’s easiest hole (4.6), while the par-5 13th is averaging around par (5.0). Koepka missed two of the easier opportunities for birdie at Bethpage.
Couple that bit of par-5 futility with his strokes gained at 9.875 after the morning wave, and Koepka’s round figures to hold up as one of the greatest in PGA and major championship history. Currently, the number has moved over to +10 strokes gained, which would by day’s end make it the best performance in a major by 2011 (Steve Stricker, first round, PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club).
LEADERBOARD: PGA Championship first round
A few more numbers from Koepka’s 63:
- The Black Course played 7,406 yards in round one and to par of 70.
- Koepka broke the Bethpage Black course record held by five players, with two of those 64s posted in the U.S. Open (Lucas Glover and Mike Weir, 2009)
- 7 birdies, no eagles, 11 pars
- First player to shoot 63 in consecutive years in a major, both in the PGA Championship
- First to shoot two 63s in the same major
- Lowest opening round by a defending champion by three
- 9 of 14 fairways hit, 1.294 strokes gained off the tee (7th)
- Average approach, 172 yards
- Greens in regulation, 14 of 18
- Strokes gained approaching the green 4.294
- Driving distance all holes, 296.4 (15th after morning wave)
- 4 of 4 in scrambling
- 25 putts
- Feet of putts made, 121’7”
And then there’s this …
Good luck, everyone else.