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While the inaugural PGA Championship was played in 1916, we can’t use the entire history of this storied tournament in this particular article.
And the reason for that is quite simple: the PGA Championship was contested as a match play tournament until 1958. Now, we could dive into every scorecard of every match played back in that era, but that’s just too much work. So we’ll just stick to 1958 and beyond to get the best 72-hole score.
Now, you have to remember that this tournament is not played on the same course every year. Augusta National is the only course to host one of the four major championships year in and year out, so there’s only one type of lowest 72-hole score at The Masters.
With the PGA Championship, however, there are two. There’s one for the lowest score in relation to par, which came on a par-72 course. And then there’s the lowest total number of strokes, which came on a par-70 course. As the former came first, we’ll start there.
At the time the fifth-ranked player in the world, Jason Day came to the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits playing fantastic golf. After tying for ninth at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, he tied for fourth at The Open Championship at St. Andrews, missing out on a playoff by just a single stroke.
A week later, he won the RBC Canadian Open, and in his final tuneup before the PGA, he tied for 12th at the WGC-Bridgestone. So Day was ready for Whistling Straits.
He opened his week with a solid 4-under round of 68, just two strokes back of leader Dustin Johnson in a tie for third. Day was tied for the lead at 9-under when the second round was suspended due to inclement weather, but he remained two strokes behind when the round was completed on Saturday. Matt Jones was the leader at the halfway point at 11-under.
Day took control of the tournament on Saturday, firing a brilliant 6-under round of 66. The round could have been even better if not for a disastrous double-bogey at the par-4 15th. Nevertheless, the Australian was at 15-under after 54 holes and held a two-stroke lead over Jordan Spieth heading into the final round.
Day was never truly challenged and Sunday and continued to play solid golf, finishing off his first (and still only) major championship victory with a 5-under 67, giving him a three-shot win. He was the first player to ever finish a major at 20-under. It’s still tied for the lowest 72-hole score in relation to par in major championship history.
Brooks Koepka arrived at the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club in suburban St. Louis less than two months removed from his second consecutive U.S. Open victory. And he’d finished outside the top 13 just once in his previous eight major championship starts. So it was essentially guaranteed that he’d be a factor.
Koepka began his week on the par-70 layout at Bellerive with a 1-under round of 69, putting him five strokes behind 18-hole leader Gary Woodland. But Brooks got within two of the man who would dethrone him as U.S. Open champ after 36 holes, firing a PGA Championship record-tying 63 in the second round to get to 8-under for the week.
Woodland faded a touch in the third round with a 1-over 71, but Koepka kept his foot on the gas with a 4-under round of 66, giving him a two-shot lead over Adam Scott heading into the final round. Brooks fired a second consecutive 66 on Sunday to capture his third major championship and the first of two consecutive PGA Championship titles. Tiger Woods finished two strokes back in second place following a final-round 64.
At 16-under, Koepka obviously didn’t break the record for the lowest 72-hole score at the PGA Championship in relation to par. But his 264 strokes are the fewest in tournament history, narrowly besting the 265 by David Toms at the Atlanta Athletic Club in 2001.
Stats courtesy of PGATour.com
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