Brooks Koepka let his clubs do the talking on day one of the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.
Playing in the marquee grouping of the day alongside Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari, Koepka sent an early message by birdieing his first hole of the day, the par-4 10th, which the field played a half stroke over par on average.
From there, Koepka made six more birdies against zero bogeys to shoot a course-record-setting 7-under par 63 to take a one stroke lead into Friday’s second round. As Koepka blitzed Bethpage Black, it was hard not to wonder what a certain Golf Channel analyst who has been brutally skeptical of Koepka thought of the performance.
“I’ve racked my brain since he putted out. Under the situation, playing with Tiger Woods at Bethpage Black, I couldn’t come up with a better round, I don’t think I’ve ever seen (one). It was incredible,” Brandel Chamblee said on Live From The PGA Championship. ” I’ve been flipped off a few times in my life – probably not as often as you’d think – but I felt like he was giving me the finger for 4 1/2 hours out there today, and I gotta tell you, I enjoyed it.”
Chamblee continued by extolling the level of play Koepka demonstrated alongside Woods, who had just won The Masters a month prior.
“No one had ever led playing alongside Tiger Woods in the next round after he’d won a major championship,” he said. “It was incredible golf all the way around.”
— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) May 16, 2019
Despite Chamblee putting down his verbal assault weapons, Koepka still has 54 holes of golf ahead of him and plenty of trouble lurks around the Black Course at Bethpage State Park, something Koepka was keenly aware of after he posted the 63.
“That was one of the best rounds I’ve played probably as a professional,” Koepka said. “This golf course is brutal. If you’re not going to drive it, like I said, it tests every asset of your game. You’ve got to drive the ball straight. It’s long, so you’ve got to hit it far and really position yourself with some of these shots in.
“You can’t take a shot off, and that’s what I love. I think that’s why I play so well at U.S. Opens, this golf course, typical U.S. Open golf course. I mean, if you don’t have a good day, you can very easily shoot 5, 6-over. There’s a fine line between 5, 6-over and a couple under out here. It’s a fun golf course to play, that’s for sure.”
Koepka heads into Friday leading Danny Lee by a stroke after the New Zealander shot a 6-under par round of 64. Tommy Fleetwood leads the next wave of contestants at 3-under par.