ST. LOUIS – Tiger Woods waited near the goal area after he had placed his best final round in a major to congratulate the winner of the PGA Championship, Brooks Koepka – the man he could not win at the Bellerive Country Club on Sunday.
Koepka won his second major championship of the year, and Woods finished second in a major for the ninth time, but it was hard to see the 14-time Major Champion in a positive light after he moved the masses to the brink of hysteria.
"I could hear it," Koepka said, smiling as Woods hugged him and acknowledged how exuberant it was when Woods made eight birdies in a round of 64.
Brooks Koepka understood the good mood story everyone wanted. He simply did not want to happen on Sunday at the PGA Championship.
Tiger Woods wanted to win his 15th Major. Pretty much everyone at Bellerive wanted the same thing. That was not so bad, considering what he has done in the last two majors.
Brooks Koepka finished Sunday's 4-under-66 win for a two-shot PGA Championship victory, making him the fifth player to win the US Open and PGA Championship the same year.
It did not bring a 15th big championship, and you can certainly argue about the lost opportunities along the way.
But considering that 64 is the lowest final round of Woods in his 80th Major Championship, and his 266 score is his lowest 72-hole rating, it was an impressive performance.
Gary Woodland, who played with Woods in the final round, saw it close up.
"The ball flight, he controls it," said Woodland. "The putter was great, he hit a lot of good putts that did not come in. Sixty-four, and it looked pretty straightforward, to be honest.
"The energy in the crowd, that was as much as I saw and before I played, and he just fucked a 64. I think he could have done a lot better than him."
Woods struggled with the tee, which made the rating on Sunday all the more remarkable. He did not hit a single fairway – 0-for-7 – on the first nine, but still made four birdies and shot 32, scoring his 9-iron from just above the cart on the ninth hole to 10 feet for a birdie among his remarkable achievements.
"I did not ride well all day," said Woods, who hit only 5 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens. "I fought my golf swing, I warmed up to hit him to the left, I hit it right with every single bat, even with my sand wedge, I did not play very well, so I knew it would be a fight would and together a round and I did. "
Although he missed the fairway at the first, Woods beat his approach to 7 feet – and missed the birdie putt. But at the next two holes he stuffed iron shots at 4 and 2 feet, then after a bogey on the sixth he birded the eighth and ninth and for a time was within a shot of Koepka.
Woods eventually found his first fairway on the 10th, landing a birdie putt on the lip on the 11th, then birded the 12th and 13th holes with lugs within 10 feet. A bogey on the 14th was the result of a missed fairway, but he bounced back with a birdie on the 15th.
If Woods had a chance, he had to have a birdie on the 17th, but he could not find the fairway again, almost his driver into a creek that limited the right side from where he was able to hit the ball only 60 yards , Woods had to walk up and down a bunker to save Par.
But on the 18th, he nailed a 320 yards ride, hit his neck at 19 feet and made the putt, gave a fist pump and received a big ovation as he left the course and crossed a bridge to the scribe area.
His caddy, Joe LaCava, noticed the emotion, the fire.
"It's been a while, to be honest," he said. "Even in year 13, when he won five times, Player of the Year, there were not many fist pumps, and I think that of all the hard work he has invested, he's starting to reward himself. " Pumped for himself, he has done a lot of hard work. "
Woods was pleased to receive this closing birdie, knowing he needed to tie up, at least at this point Adam Scott and giving himself a chance he recognized was unlikely.
"I posted [minus-] 14, and that meant it [Koepka] I would have to shoot something in the '60s, "Woods said. He could not make a bunch of Pars and win the golf tournament. He went out and did some birdies. "
Woods played 14 tournaments in 2018 and made a notable climb. When he started the season in Torrey Pines in January, he was ranked # 656 in the world. He has now moved up to 27th place. He is also 20th in FedEx Cup points, which means he is a block for the first three FedEx Cup playoff events and in a good position to make the Tour Championship top 30.
He needed a win to finish in the top eight of the US auto qualification tournaments. Ryder Cup team, but moved to 11th place and is still pretty sure to get one of Captain Jim Furyk's big picks.
A year ago, at that time, Woods still had to swing a golf club because of the spinal fusion surgery he had to endure in April 2017. When he was an assistant captain for Steve Stricker at the Presidents Cup found that he was just hitting chip shots and saying, "I do not know what my future holds."
Now, he has fought two major championships, scored five top 10 finishes, and has returned to the top 30 in the world.
"That was a building process," he said. "I did not know when I would start this year and how many tournaments I would play, how well I would play, I did not know which swing I was going to use, I'm in unknown territory because no one has ever had a grown-up back, who met him as if I were meeting him.
"So I had to figure that out on my own, and it was really hard, it's a lot harder than people think, and I'm just very pleased with what I've done so far, and now, to be part of it, the Ryder Cup conversation From where I came from last year, it was pretty cool. "