Editor’s note: This story originally ran on August 13, 2018, following Brooks Koepka’s victory at the 2018 PGA Championship. After successfully defending that title at Bethpage Black on Sunday, Koepka now has four career major wins (the 2018-2019 PGA Championships and 2017-2018 U.S. Opens) to go with just two (2015 Waste Management and 2018 CJ Cup) regular PGA Tour titles. Here’s how his impressive—and bizarre—ratio compares to other major champs.
Brooks Koepka’s win at the 100th PGA Championship gave him an impressively quick third major title. It also had people asking a logical question when examining his career resume: Why doesn’t this guy win more regular PGA Tour events?
The victory at Bellerive means Koepka now has four PGA Tour titles, but only one has come at a non-major. It’s a puzzling ratio, but certainly one he won’t complain about. And one he tried to explain on Sunday night in St. Louis.
“I’m just very—I don’t want to say maybe a different person when I show up to the majors,” Koepka said. “I’m very focused, very disciplined.”
Whatever the reason, it’s a golf resume unlike any other among modern American pro golfers. Although Koepka honed his game in Europe after turning pro and has several other non-major worldwide wins, it still doesn’t quite make sense that in 80 starts in regular PGA Tour events he has a lone victory at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open while he’s won three of his 20 starts in majors. In regular events, he wins at a minuscule 1.25-percent clip and in the biggest tournaments against the stiffest competition, he’s won more than 10 times as often for a ridiculous 15 percent.
Anyway, we scanned through the archives to find others with unusual ratios like this. Again, we ruled out international players who didn’t play full schedules on the PGA Tour like Nick Faldo (six of nine PGA Tour wins were majors) and Seve Ballesteros (five of nine), and players whose careers finished before World War II like Bobby Jones whose record is tough to compare with a different set of majors at the time.
It’s also difficult to compare players whose lone PGA Tour win was a major. There are five players who can claim that, but three (Louis Oosthuizen, Michael Campbell and Paul Lawrie) are international. The other two are Shaun Micheel (2003 PGA) and Orville Moody (1969 U.S. Open). Technically, 100 percent of their PGA Tour wins are majors, but a 1-to-0 ratio is not much of a ratio, now is it?
The closest comparison to Koepka in this category is Andy North, who has the distinction of being a two-time U.S. Open champ despite having won only one other time on the PGA Tour. Of winners of multiple majors, John Daly’s two out of five is the next most similar. And of American players with three major titles like Koepka, Larry Nelson’s 10 PGA Tour titles is the next fewest (Jordan Spieth and Payne Stewart each have three majors out of 11 PGA Tour titles). Half of Padraig Harrington’s six PGA Tour titles are majors, but again, he has played a lot of golf on the European Tour throughout his career so it’s not a proper comparison.
On the flip side, there are plenty of golfers with unfortunate wins-to-majors ratios. Among today’s stars, Koepka’s buddy and current World No. 1 Dustin Johnson leads the way with only one of his 19 PGA Tour titles coming in a major. That matches Tom Kite’s ratio, but it trails (if that’s even the right word) Davis Love and Lanny Wadkins who each have 21 PGA Tour titles, including their lone major victories. Gene Littler leads the way (again, not really) with 29 PGA Tour wins and only one major.
Then again, all of these guys are glad they aren’t on the list of best players never to win a big one. And Koepka? Well, we’re pretty sure that with his game he’ll start hoisting a few more smaller trophies at some point.