Unflappable American builds record lead ahead of PGA Championship final round.

Brooks Koepka is on the cusp of some elite company at the PGA Championship — in the record book, not on the leaderboard.

He is all alone on Bethpage Black, the public course he has turned into his private playground, leaving everyone in his wake, including Kiwi Danny Lee. Lee carded a one-over par 71 to drop four places into a share of 14th, only four shots behind Harold Varner III, Jazz Janewattananond, Luke List and Dustin Johnson, who are tied for second.

However, they, in turn, are seven shots behind Koepka, who wasn't at his best, particularly with his putter on the toughest scoring day of the championship, and yet still kept everyone far enough behind to make the final round feel more like a victory lap.

With an even par 70 that featured a pair of three-putt bogeys, he kept a seven-shot lead and earned another entry in the record book with the largest lead since the PGA Championship switched to stroke play in 1958. No one has ever lost a seven-shot lead in the final round at any major, or even a PGA Tour event.


That leaves Koepka 18 holes away from joining Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the PGA in stroke play. He is one round away from becoming the first player to hold back-to-back major title at the same time. Not since Hal Sutton in 1983 has anyone led from start to finish in the PGA Championship.

And a third straight year winning a major? Woods and Phil Mickelson are the only players to have done that over the last 30 years. Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are the only others to win majors in three straight years dating to 1960.

Asked if there was any doubt he would win, Koepka said flatly, "No."

He is unflappable in speech and on the golf course. Koepka has never bothered to check his heart rate at rest, but he figures it wouldn't be much different from standing on the first tee of a major championship with a big lead and thousands of fans witnessing a master performance.

"Every time I set up to a golf shot, I feel like I know what the ball is going to do," Koepka said. "I'd say I'm pretty flat-lined most of the time, as you can tell."

He has all but flattened the strongest field in golf.

- AP