The PGA: Brooks Koepka, Tiger Woods and stages of immortality



Brooks Koepka’s victory in the 2018 PGA Championship, his third major title, positions him to be one of the all-time great players in PGA Tour history.

Koepka won with a Z Score of -2.75, meaning his performance was 2.75 standard deviations better than the field average. That equals the 15th best performance in the history of the PGA Championship. His Z Scores in his two U.S. Open championships were -2.24 in 2017 and -2.42 in 2018.

It also improved his peak rating – the average of his 10 best major tournament performances over the past five seasons – to -1.58, which puts him just outside the top 75 in major tournament golf history.  Among men only, it pushes Koepka inside the top 50 all time. He is not yet 30 so he has a substantial chance to improve that standing.

Here’s how much Koepka has the potential to become the dominant force on tour. If he reprises his 2017 and 2018 seasons in 2019 and 2020, Koepka’s peak rating would rise to about -2.15 by the end of that season, ranking him as the sixth best golfer in the history of the sport for peak performance.

Tiger Woods’ second place finish thrilled his fans and produced a -2.29 Z Score. That makes it Woods’ best performance in a major since the 2007 PGA Championship, which he won with a Z Score of -2.84.  Woods finished the 2018 major season with a career Z Score of -64.66, the sixth best all-time and fourth best by a male.

Here are the 25 best PGA Championship performances in history as measured by dominance rating.

Rank      Player                   Season Z Score

1              Davis Love           1997       -3.54

2              Jack Nicklaus      1980       -3.34

3              Wayne Grady    1990       -3.11

4              Rory McIlroy      2012       -3.02

5              Nick Price            1994       -3.01

6              Bobby Nichols   1964       -2.99

7              Ben Hogan          1946       -2.98

8              Doug Ford           1955       -2.92

9              Jeff Sluman        1988       -2.84

T-10       David Toms         2001       -2.83

T-10       Henry Picard      1939       -2.83

T-10       Tiger Woods       2007       -2.83

T-13       Leo Diegel           1929       -2.77

T-13       John Daly             1991       -2.77

T-15       Brooks Koepka  2018       -2.75

T-15       Jim Ferrier           1947       -2.75

17           Jason Day            2015       -2.70

18           Al Geiberger      1966       -2.68

T-19       Y.E. Yang              2009       -2.66

T-19       Jimmy Walker    2016       -2.66

21           Lee Trevino        1984       -2.61

22           Jack Nicklaus      1975       -2.57

T-23       John Mahaffey 1978       -2.56

T-23       Bob Tway            1986       -2.56

25           Dow Finsterwald1958     -2.54

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