LONG ISLAND — Golf fans flocked to Long Island for the opening round of the PGA Championship at Bethpage Thursday, many of them hoping to get a glimpse of Tiger Woods after his win at the Masters. But it was another golfer in the group that ended up stealing the show.
There's no denying the "Tiger effect" on fans at the golf course. When Woods is on a hole, there are thousands of people lining the fairways and tee boxes. The second his group plays through, only a smattering of those fans remain. But reigning PGA Champion Brooks Koepka stole the show today, shooting a record-tying 63 in the opening round.
"I never once thought about the course record or anything," Koepka said afterwards. "I was just trying to shoot the best I could."
It was just one year ago that Koepka and Woods battled down the stretch for a PGA Championship, Koepka beating Woods by two strokes down the stretch. This year, the two golfers found themselves group together in the opening round on Bethpage Black, with thousands of fans hoping to see Tiger win back-to-back majors.
"You know what you're going to get when you play with him," Koepka said. "Obviously everybody in New York is going to be cheering for him. It's going to be loud, especially when he makes a putt. You just got to keep battling and find a way to get through it."
Koepka did more than get through it, posting seven birdies in the record-tying opening round. Woods, who sits nine shots behind Koepka's lead after shooting a 72, said the rest of the field is lucky the score wasn't even lower.
"I think that was probably the highest score he could have shot today," Woods said. "He left a few out there with a couple putts that he missed. But it could have easily been a couple better."