Predicting who will win the 2020 PGA Championship

Nineteen players are within five shots of leader Dustin Johnson entering the final round of the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. There are former major champions and rising stars all with a shot. But one name stands out, as it has, it seems, in nearly every major over the past three years: Brooks Koepka.

The two-time defending champ, looking to become the first player in the stroke-play era to win this event three straight times, lurks just two strokes back after a strong finish to an otherwise lackluster third round on Saturday.

So will he do it? Or will someone else spoil it for him?

Our experts weigh in:

Bob Harig, ESPN
Winner: Brooks Koepka

He seemed out of it Saturday when he bogeyed three straight holes on the back nine, only to rebound with birdies on two of the last three holes to shoot 69 and give himself another chance at the tournament he’s won the past two times. That’s a big confidence boost that will carry him to another major triumph.

His streak of nine straight rounds at the PGA Championship among the top three is over. He enters the final round tied for fourth. But no matter. Koepka trails by just two, and the roles are reversed from last year when Dustin Johnson tried to track him down at Bethpage Black. Koepka even noted that “DJ’s only won one,” a nice dig, in his post-round television interview on Saturday. Koepka will be going for his fifth and trying to make history as the first player to win three straight PGAs since Walter Hagen won four from 1924 to 1927.

Michael Collins, ESPN
Winner: Brooks Koepka

I started with Brooks Koepka. I am staying with Brooks Koepka.

He is only two shots back. That he is there after not having a super-low round in the books this week makes me feel better and even more confident that he will accomplish the three-peat. Don’t be surprised if he goes lower than 5 under on Sunday to put an exclamation point on his dominance.

Ian O’Connor, ESPN
Winner: Brooks Koepka

I was tempted to go with Scottie Scheffler, my pick last summer as the most likely breakout star of 2020 and a kid who is going to do some big-time winning on tour. But those last three holes Saturday changed everything. Koepka’s two birdies at Nos. 16 and 18 eased the sting of those three consecutive bogeys and allowed him to carry some momentum and feel-good vibes into Sunday’s final round.

Yes, he’s still two strokes behind Dustin Johnson, an elite athlete too talented to finish his career with only one major title. And yes, Koepka nearly collapsed at last year’s PGA Championship and all but gagged away the trophy to a charging DJ. But nobody among the true contenders knows how to win the big one like the two-time defending champ and four-time major winner, and his unbending belief in himself in these situations will be the most lethal club in his bag. Though hard to believe that a player who had been struggling for so long with a knee injury and wayward aim can suddenly arrive with his A-game these past two weeks, Koepka is a good bet to make history here with the first three-peat in the stroke-play era of this championship.

Mark Schlabach, ESPN
Winner: Brooks Koepka

I picked him from the start, and he’s certainly within striking distance. His game has been up and down since golf returned. I’m expecting a better showing on Sunday than what we saw on Saturday, when he fought his way to a 1-under 69.

Koepka’s success in majors will loom large in the final round. Winning back-to-back U.S. Opens and PGA Championships gives him the track record and nerves to handle the pressure. As talented as Collin Morikawa, Cameron Champ, Scottie Scheffler and others might be, they haven’t been there before in a major.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz, ESPN
Winner: Collin Morikawa

I went out on a limb before this thing started, picking Collin Morikawa, at 23, to win in his-ever appearance in a major championship. Sure, he has to deal with some big names either tied or in front of him — there’s Koepka and leader Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Justin Rose, Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau and a whole host of others in a traffic jam of a leaderboard. The lack of fans could help ease the nerves, with no noise or commotion to distract him from the task at hand. He has hit fairways (fourth best this week in driving accuracy), his world-class iron game is on point (sixth in greens in regulation) and he’s rolling it well (third in putting). Seems like a pretty good combination.

He knows the place, having played TPC Harding Park while in college at Cal. He has won already in the golf restart, doing it in a playoff against world No. 1 Justin Thomas. He won’t be intimidated by the moment.

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