2023 post-PGA stock index: Brooks Koepka, LIV up; Phil’s tweets, hot mics down
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Rochester isn’t home, but it sure felt like it this week for Brooks Koepka. And goodness, is there anything better than going home?
On Sunday, Koepka returned in full, reentering the conversation of the best golfers of this era in professional golf. In doing so, he tore down two years worth of injuries, doubts, and moody Netflix appearances; winning his fifth major championship in bulletproof fashion.
It was an astonishing performance — almost as astonishing as the plate of pancakes just placed in front of my colleague, Darren Riehl, at Stella’s Diner in Syracuse, just a short drive down I-90 from Oak Hill.
Darren and I arrived at Stella’s — home of the best cinnamon raisin bread this side of Flourtown, Pa. — on Monday morning after seven long days at Oak Hill. We’d survived the cold and the rain and, later, the mud to make it here to Syracuse, the site of my own mini-homecoming. Many moons ago, before the worries of LIV and the Ryder Cup and golf’s future, the greatest of my morning worries was the speed with which a plate heaped high with eggs and home fries could arrive in front of me here. I was a Syracuse student back then, my senior year overlapping with Koepka’s last major victory, ironically also in New York.
The pancakes at Stella’s are enormous. You could park your car on them. And for two very hungry GOLF employees, they’re the perfect nostalgia generator for remembering the week that was in upstate New York. Let’s get into it.
PGA Championship Stock Report
Brooks Koepka: Stock UP
Brooks was confident. He was controlled. And when it mattered, he was ruthless. There was something deeply satisfying about witnessing Koepka at the top of his major championship powers at Oak Hill, where brutal conditions blunted most of the tournament field. It was a reminder that when he’s healthy, there are no weaknesses to his game. Only strengths.
Jon Rahm’s Masters honeymoon: Stock DOWN
It seems the post-Masters glow is gone for Jon Rahm, who externalized some on-course frustration in the direction of CBS/ESPN’s cameramen, microphones and…general existence this weekend. Rahm’s game isn’t going anywhere — it seemed he was just a hair off all week — but it’s possible his state of green jacket nirvana has worn off ever so slightly. That’s probably bad news for those in the field in L.A.
Upstate New York golf fans: Stock UP
So loud, so passionate, and so willing to take part in the fun — THIS is what a golf crowd should sound like.
Josh Allen: Stock DOWN
Allen was whisked everywhere by security, but he was still swarmed by mobs of fans and, at one point, PGA Championship volunteers. It must be hard to live as the patron saint of a region.
Michael Block: Stock so far UP it’s currently reaching orbit
The unquestioned star of PGA week. It’s not often a 46-year-old teaching professional blocks out the sun at a major championship, but Block more than earned it with his performance all weekend at Oak Hill. Standing next to the tee box for his ace on No. 15 on Sunday gave me chills. A truly ridiculous moment.
Bryson: Stock UP…and then DOWN
Bryson started the week on an almost-biblical high. An opening-round 66. A share of the Thursday lead. An epic press conference recapping the pain and growth of the last 18 months. He seemed changed. He seemed…happy. For a few minutes, he was THE feel-good story in golf.
He ended the weekend T4, a brilliant finish for a golfer who makes the sport better when he’s at his best. But his post-round presser revealed he hasn’t fully grown out of cringe-worthy soundbites.
Rory’s WHOOP recovery: Stock DOWN
Something didn’t seem right from the second Rory McIlroy arrived on-site in Rochester. Later in the week, he admitted that he wasn’t feeling his best — a point supported by health monitoring data from his WHOOP band. He finished T7, his fifth top-10 in his last six major starts, but it wasn’t near good enough for a breakthrough victory. Here’s hoping for green recovery scores — for both him and me — come next month’s U.S. Open in Los Angeles.
The major season: Stock UP
As Koepka turned for home with a hefty lead on Sunday afternoon, a sudden realization hit me: we’re in the midst of an epic major season. We’ve seen two of the sport’s biggest dawgs — Koepka and Rahm — turn in career-changing wins in heart-stopping finishes…and it’s only May! We still have the national championship at a first-time host in primetime and another national championship at a host last won by…Rory McIlroy. It’s a good time to be in golf.
Major weather: Stock DOWN
I am growing tired of ruining shoes on major Saturdays, as has happened to me at both the Masters and PGA. Enough of the rain and the cold. It’s time for summer weather. Thank goodness Los Angeles is next on the docket.
LIV: Stock UP
The narrative folks had a field day with this one, but make no mistake, a LIV Golf major winner is a big deal. The league is clinging to reputability in whichever ways it comes, and major success is one huge way to boost reputability.
Brooks on LIV: Stock DOWN
Koepka didn’t sound particularly enthused by the LIV questions he received on Sunday evening. (“I’m more interested in my own self right now, to be honest with you,” he said.) With a major opportunity to take a victory lap on behalf of his new employers, Brooks notably declined. That’s strange, particularly after rumors about his possible defection back to the PGA Tour dominated the early portion of tournament week.
Garbage Plates: Stock UP
It was a big week to be a garbage plate, even if the local delicacy didn’t quite endear itself to the out-of-towners. As one Rochesterian put it to me, “it’s probably best after 10 beers and 2 a.m.” After making one, I happen to agree.
Wegmans: Stock way, way UP
America’s favorite supermarket quickly became golf’s favorite supermarket during PGA week. Each night, the Pittsford Wegmans was a hotspot for golfers, caddies and other industry folks. As CBS on-course reporter Dottie Pepper put it to me, “It was the first thing I did when I came here last week, and it’ll probably be the last thing I do before I leave.” Cheers to that.
Hot Mics: Stock INAUDIBLE
After a BUSY early week for the segment of Twitter dedicated to screen-recordings of golfers cursing, the CBS standards team came on hot over the weekend. Brooks Koepka’s walk from 18 was largely audio-free, thanks to the (necessary) work of the network dump button. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
Viktor Hovland’s outfits: Stock NEUTRAL
It would be hard for Hovland’s style team to top his performance at the Masters, but they tried their damndest. Credit to Hov, who played lights-out golf for 71 holes at Oak Hill and leaves with a second-place finish. Rory called it a “matter of time” until young Viktor wrangles a major win himself. As for his outfits, Hovland was frank: “I don’t give a s—.”
Home games: Stock UP
Didn’t think I’d be getting emotional over this plate of pancakes, but here we are. It’s been an epic week back in the friendly confines of upstate New York, and I hope major golf comes back here soon. The people — and area — have more than earned it (even if Darren’s pancake performance did not).