As if there weren’t already reason enough for golf fans to zero in on Palm Beach County, how do you like this magnetic trend?
Brooks Koepka’s dominant U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills makes it two wins in a row on the PGA Tour for Palm Beach County high school products.
Daniel Berger, who played high school golf at William T. Dwyer, won on tour the previous week at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis. He and Koepka, a Cardinal Newman High School graduate, were teammates at Florida State, too.
Now I don’t mean to put undue pressure on Berger but the last seven of golf’s Grand Slam events have been won by first-time major winners and he looks like a good candidate to join the party in the near future.
Already this season Berger has four top-10 finishes on tour. In 2016, he tied for 10th at the Masters. He’s sneaking up on it, just like Koepka did. Brooks’ first close call at a major was a tie for fourth at the 2014 U.S. Open.
Koepka was 24 then, just like Berger is now.
Matter of fact, Berger nearly won the Honda Classic at 21. Commuting to PGA National from his Jupiter home, he forced a playoff with eventual winner Padraig Harrington by shooting a Sunday 64.
Setting aside any local bias, the best bet overall to be the next first-time major winner is Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama. He tied for second behind Koepka at Erin Hills Sunday and has been close a couple of times the last few years at the Masters and the PGA Championship.
It’s just a matter of time for 2017 Honda classic champion Rickie Fowler, too, right?
Any way you slice it, seven consecutive first-time winners in golf’s majors is the perfect demonstration of how the game is waiting for somebody to soak up all the glory in the absence of Tiger Woods. Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlory and Dustin Johnson have had their hot streaks but there are so many other great young talents pushing to win.
The last time there was a streak anywhere similar to this was nine first-time major winners in a row between the 2010 U.S. Open and the 2012 U.S. Open.
In order they were Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel, McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Keegan Bradley, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson.
McIlroy is the only player on that list who is ranked in the top 10 of the current Official World Golf Rankings.
Of, and if you’re wondring if any other Palm Beach County high school golfer has won a major, Mark Calcavecchia counts the 1989 British Open among his 13 career PGA Tour victories. Calc moved to the area from Nebraska as a teenager and won the state high school individual championship while playing for the old North Shore High School in West Palm Beach.