Six weeks after feeling “suffocated” in the final round of the Masters, Brooks Koepka took the courage to overcome a lively challenge coming Victor Hovland to earn USA PGA Championship in Oak Hill.

Koepka finished nine under-equals with a close of 67, taking his third U.S. PGA title, fifth major overall, and first for a player in the Saudi-funded LIV Golf League.

Hovland took hits with Koepka until he had a costly double bogey on the 16th, but on the 18th a bird rightfully gave the Norwegian second place. Scottie Scheffler under seven.

Koepka doubled that advantage after 54 holes at the Masters in April to advance to the final round with a one-shot lead over Hovland and Corey Conners.

The 33-year-old finished second behind Jon Rahm at the Augusta National with a score of 75 and felt suffocating under pressure, but expelled those demons at the first opportunity.

The old world number one got off to a fast start with a birdies hat-trick from the second moment, and Hovland was four shots behind for a moment before pairing his bird in fourth place.

Hovland also put fifth together to close the gap and was in a single hit when Koepka pushed his sixth-place drive into Allen’s Creek and failed to save par.

Koepka doubled his lead with a bird on the 10th, but that’s when he saw it approaching the next chip in a green bunker.

After jumping 12 feet, Koepka saw the par attempt open its mouth and was unable to sway a determined Hovland, though he immediately rebounded to flank the 12th.

In contention for the third major in a row, the 25-year-old took advantage of the par-five 13th to keep the pressure tight, with both men putting the short 14th place together to effectively turn the short 14th place into a two-horse race.

However, in a carbon copy of what happened to Conners in the third round, Hovland made his second shot into the face of a turf bunker to run a double bogey on the 16th.

Hovland pushed Koepka but his challenge ended on the 16th.

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Koepka’s bird gave him a four-stroke lead and could bogey the 17th and final to complete an impressive victory.

Scheffler was placed between the two of the lead thanks to 10th, 13th and 14th-place birdies, but had to wait until 18th to take another shot and complete an amazing 65.

World number one Rahm lauded Koepka after his terrific start, while commenting for CBS after a seven-over-average closing 71.

“He’s a player who is like a shark in water when he gets into an argument,” Rahm said.

“Especially on courses like this, it smells of blood. It fits the mindset of being balanced, making progress with difficulty, and taking opportunities when they come.

“It turned out to be aggressive and I don’t think people realize how dangerous some of these hole-in-places are. It’s incredible to be so precise (per second) to give yourself a meter up the hill.

Open champion Cameron Smith recorded their joint lowest round of the week to date with a close of 65, and insisted no one should be surprised that he and LIV players like Koepka were able to compete at the highest level.

“I gave up on that narrative about six months ago,” Smith said with a smile. “I think there are a few guys trying to push things a little further.

“We’re still out there. We haven’t forgotten to play golf. We’re all great golfers and we know what we can do, and I think that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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Rory McIlroy He started the day five shots behind Koepka and got off to an ideal start with a bird from first-stroke distance, but bogeyed on two of the next three holes and eventually signed for a third straight 69.

McIlroy at least had the best seat in the house, for the outstanding performance of his 46-year-old club pro playing partner Michael Block, who took a hole 15 in the closing 71 that secured a spot on the field. Next year in Valhalla.

Justin Rose was in the lead three when he put the first together and stepped in to save the second on equal footing, but had to settle for the closing 71 to finish a sub.

Citizen Tyrrell Hatton had to grieve a nightmarish opening lap of 77 after the ensuing scores of 68, 69 and 67 proved what was possible and drew him 15th.