Successful defences: Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo and now Brooks Koepka … twice!

Successful defences: Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo and now Brooks Koepka … twice!

Brooks Koepka’s victory at Bethpage Black saw him become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2007 to defend the PGA Championship.

Koepka, himself, was the last man to defend a major title only last year when he retained the US Open crown and no player has ever been the two-time defending champion at two of the four majors at the same time.

Here we take a look at all the players to defend a major over the last 30 years….

Brooks Koepka – US Open – 2017 and 2018

Koepka became the first player in nearly three decades to defend the US Open title when he triumphed by one shot from Tommy Fleetwood at Shinnecock Hills in New York last year.

With conditions not conducive to low scoring, Koepka was tied for the lead on three over with fellow Americans Dustin Johnson, Daniel Berger and Tony Finau after three rounds after making scores of 75, 66 and 72. He then took command in the final round with three birdies over the first five holes and, despite a bogey at the 18th, he was able to hold off a charging Fleetwood, who shot a 63, thanks to a two-under 68.

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Koepka had claimed his first major title 12 months earlier at the 2017 US Open at Erin Hills with a 16-under total of 272 after rounds of 67, 70 and 68 kept him towards the top of the leaderboard before a final-round 67 saw him prevail by four from Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama.

Curtis Strange – US Open 1988 and 1989

Strange ended an even longer wait for someone to defend the US Open when he won in 1989, becoming the first man to do so since Ben Hogan managed it 38 years previously in 1950 and 1951.

Strange needed a play-off to win his first major in 1988 at Brookline, Massachusetts. Four days of play could not separate himself and Nick Faldo, as they both finished on six under, but Strange prevailed relatively comfortably over 18 holes on the Monday, finishing on level par as Faldo’s troublesome round saw him end on four over.

Strange then managed to win the following year at Oak Hill in New York within the regulation four days. He led by a shot after two days but slipped away on the Saturday, only to come back stronger and finish the Sunday with an even round to win by one shot.

Nick Faldo – The Masters 1989 and 1990

Shortly after Strange’s US Open defence, Faldo was performing the same trick at the Masters, becoming the first man to defend at Augusta in 24 years since Jack Nicklaus in 1966.

Faldo was already a major winner, having won The Open in 1987, and recovered from his play-off disappointment at the US Open in 1988 to claim the Masters the following year in similar fashion. Rather than over 18 holes, though, Faldo won a sudden death play-off against Scott Hoch. Both men bogeyed the 10th but then Faldo made a birdie on the 11th to claim the green jacket.

Yet again in 1990 Faldo was forced into a play-off at the Masters. This time it was against Raymond Floyd, who had started the final day three shots clear of the Englishman but Faldo managed to claw it back so they both finished on 10 under. Both men parred the 10th, but Faldo also parred the 11th for victory.

Tiger Woods – PGA Championship 1999 and 2000

Woods became the first man in a decade to defend a major when he won the first PGA Championship of the new millennium. The 1999 victory at Medinah was his second major win, having claimed the Masters in 1997, as he finished a shot clear of Sergio Garcia.

Victories in 2000 at the US Open and The Open established Woods as the dominant force in golf, and he would go on to claim the PGA title again at Valhalla.

He either led or shared the lead at the end of all four days, but Bob May forced him into a three-hole play-off, which Woods claimed by a single shot after a birdie on the 16th and pars on 17 and 18, while May could only make three pars.

Tiger Woods – The Masters 2001 and 2002

Woods was at it again just a couple of years later as he managed to retain the green jacket, becoming the first man to do so since Faldo in 1990.

Woods was five off the lead after the first day at Augusta in 2001, but came back strongly to lead by a shot heading into the final day. A 68 on the Sunday meant he saw off the challenge of David Duval to finish on 16 under and also meant he held all four majors at the same time.

Woods could not defend any of his other titles in 2001, but he did go on to win the Masters again in 2002, finishing three shots clear of Retief Goosen.

Tiger Woods – The Open 2005 and 2006

It’s that man again. Woods became the first man in 23 years, since Tom Watson in 1983, to defend The Open when he won in 2006.

Woods lifted the Claret Jug for the second time in his career on the Old Course at St Andrews in 2005 with a comfortable five-shot win over Colin Montgomerie, then retained his title at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club a year later, his third and most recent Open win.

Tiger Woods – PGA Championship 2006 and 2007

Six years after retaining his PGA title in 2000, Woods would win it again in back-to-back years in 2006 and 2007.

Again, the first one came at Medinah as he secured a five-shot win over Shaun Micheel to finish on 18 under, tying his own record for an aggregate low score in the PGA Championship.

He would win his 13th major a year later as he claimed a two-shot triumph over Woody Austin at Southern Hills.

Padraig Harrington – The Open 2007 and 2008

Harrington became the first man to defend a major, aside from Woods, in 18 years as he won The Open in 2007 and 2008.

The Irishman came from six shots behind Sergio Garcia on the final day at Carnoustie to force a four-hole play-off, which he won with an even score after Garcia bogeyed the first.

Harrington would claim victory a year later at Royal Birkdale as well. Greg Norman, then 53, seemed to be heading for an unlikely victory in tough conditions as he started the final round two shots clear, but a final-day 77 saw him slip out of contention as Harrington eventually won with a score of three over, four shots clear of Ian Poulter.

Post-war major defenders

The Masters

Jack Nicklaus – 1965 and 1966

Nick Faldo – 1989 and 1990

Tiger Woods – 2001 and 2002

US Open

Ben Hogan – 1950 and 1951

Curtis Strange – 1988 and 1989

Brooks Koepka – 2017 and 2018

The Open

Bobby Locke – 1949 and 1950

Peter Thomson – 1954, 1955 and 1956

Arnold Palmer – 1961 and 1962

Lee Trevino – 1971 and 1972

Tom Watson – 1982 and 1983

Tiger Woods – 2005 and 2006

Padraig Harrington – 2007 and 2008

PGA Championship

Tiger Woods – 1999 and 2000


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