The list of Brooks Koepka challengers left for the 2018-19 PGA Tour Player of the Year Award is shrinking by the event, and it may have been vanquished altogether when Koepka won for the third time this year at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Sunday over Rory McIlroy at TPC Southwind.

Koepka has, for the second straight season, been a tour de force at the most important events. We’ve already discussed how he defeated 99.1 percent of golfers at major championships this year, but he also won the CJ Cup last fall, finished T2 at the Honda Classic, fourth at the Byron Nelson and won the last WGC of the season. You could make the argument that this season has been as good as last season when he was a runaway winner for Player of the Year.

2018 2019

Wins

2

3

Top 10s

6

8

Money

$7.1M

$9.5M

Scoring

69.4

69.2

Strokes gained

1.2

1.4

Major top 10s

2

4

Field defeated at majors 91.8% 99.1%

Koepka, of course, missed the Masters and most of the first three months of the season (which feels like it does not get mentioned enough). But even with that gap, his scoring average this year is comparable; he’s gaining more strokes and … he still has three events left in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

If you made me choose, I guess I’d go with 2018 just because of the two major wins — U.S. Open and PGA Championship — but the golf overall has been more or less the same. That’s maybe the most remarkable part about Koepka. Because of his flat-line demeanor, it sometimes feels as if this entire thing could go on forever.

Koepka’s primary chasers for the 2019 POY are McIlroy and  … well … that’s about it. Only three golfers have earned over $6 million this year (Koepka is at $9.5 million), and Rory trails him by over $2 million. He also doesn’t have a major win and doesn’t have as many victories as Koepka’s three (only Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele and McIlroy have more than one win, and they all have two). 

While McIlroy has been playing better golf statistically, he’ll likely have to sweep the FedEx Cup Playoffs or come mighty close to catch Koepka in this race.

So now we’re looking at back-to-back Player of the Year trophies for Koepka. The list of golfers who have done that is not long, and it includes a lot of Tiger Woods. 

  • Tiger Woods (2005-07)
  • Tiger Woods (1999-2003)
  • Nick Price (1993-94)
  • Fred Couples (1991-92)

Unless something completely bizarre happens over the next month, Koepka will join this list. It felt like a high probability before his win in Memphis, and now it feels like a lock. It’s the way this thing should go, too. When you think of 2018 in golf, you think of Koepka. With his major performance in 2019 and the icing of a WGC championship in late July, 2019 is much of the same.

Koepka has dominated the upper echelon of golf for most of the last two years, and he’s about to have two trophies (and a bulging bank account) to prove what the rest of the golf world already knows: Not only is Koepka problematic for his peers in the present, he might remain that way for a long time.

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