The Latest on the PGA Championship on Sunday (all times local):
After Phil Mickelson didn’t contend at this year’s PGA Championship, he praised the course and the fans, and then looked ahead to the next big event at Bethpage Black.
Mickelson never could tame the Black Course, finishing with a 76 that included only one birdie. He wound up at 12-over 292; leader Brooks Koepka began the final round at 12 under.
That didn’t stop Mickelson from giving a verbal love letter to the public course and New York in general.
“It’s a great venue, a fair but difficult venue, and I love coming out here,” the five-time major winner said. “The fans have treated me so well and I appreciate all the years they’ve been so great to me.”
In five years, Bethpage Black will host the Ryder Cup. Considering how rowdy local fans get even for a tour tournament such as The Barclays, Lefty couldn’t contain his enthusiasm about what a Ryder Cup scene might be.
“I can’t wait to see it or be watching it,” said the soon-to-be 49-year-old Mickelson, the presumed captain of the U.S. team for that event. “I am so glad they did it, I think it’s fantastic.”
Rob Labritz finished as the low club pro in the PGA Championship.
Labritz, from the GlenArbor Golf Club in the New York City suburb of Bedford Hills, shot 2-over 72 in the final round at Bethpage Black and finished with a total of 10 over.
The top 20 finishers in the annual PGA Professional Championship qualify for the tournament, and only three made the cut. Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Nebraska, finished at 15 over and Marty Jertson of Phoenix was 19 over.
The 47-year-old Labritz, who was playing in his sixth PGA Championship, has won three New York State Opens on the Black Course (2008, 2011 and 2016).
Labritz estimates he has played more than 70 rounds at Bethpage Black. He said the wind was the challenge on Sunday.
“Fifteen, 16, 17 and 18 you have some serious wind now,” he said. “It’s swirling and then it blows real hard and stops. Club selection is tough.”
It sure looked like Rich Beem was satisfied just to make the cut at Bethpage Black when he blew up to an 82 in the third round.
But the 48-year-old Beem came back in the final round with a 69 in the first group out, matching the score with which he squeezed into the weekend on Friday.
Beem, the 2002 PGA champion who now plays only in this tournament, didn’t need quite the rally he staged in the second round to get under par. On Friday, he made birdies on five of his last six holes for the 1-under 69. This time, he closed nicely with birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 in a far more steady 69.
Overall, he shot 15-over par with rounds of 75-69-82-69.
Should Beem want to get back into more regular competition — he is ranked 2,057th in the world — he needs to wait two more years to be old enough for the PGA Tour Champions circuit.
Already a multiple major champion, Brooks Koepka is closing in on elite company at the PGA Championship.
Koepka had a seven-shot lead going into the final round Sunday at Bethpage Black, knowing no one had ever lost a lead that large in a major championship. A victory would allow him to join Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as the only players in the last 30 years to have won majors in three consecutive years.
The course had a brief spell of light rain in the morning hours, and there was a small chance of showers for the afternoon.
The PGA Championship moving to May for the first time in 70 years worked out well with pleasant weather and a strong golf course. About the only thing it lacked was drama.
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