As the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black approaches, there’s no one who knows the course better than longtime CBS Sports analyst Peter Kostis.
Kostis, who joined CBS in 1992, is an Emmy award-winning voice. Not only is he a seasoned veteran when it comes to everything there is to know about golf, but he’s worked with dozens of PGA Tour and LPGA Tour professionals. He’s even worked with celebrities to improve their golf games, including Kevin Costner, Maury Povich, Dan Marino and former baseball stars Jim Rice and Mike Schmidt.
Now, as Bethpage Black prepares to host the second major of the PGA Tour in 2019, Kostis breaks down what to expect, the difficulty of the course, Tiger Woods’ comeback and much more.
Obviously, coming back to Bethpage Black is going to be great. We’ve been there a couple of times over the past few years. I thoroughly enjoy the golf course and I think it’s a great test. I look forward to seeing it in the spring time as opposed to later on in the summer. It will probably pose a little bit of a different challenge to the players, especially if the temperature dips or if we get a lot of rain. Bethpage Black is going to be part of the story and the other story is going to be Tiger Woods. Coming off The Masters victory, he’s going to a place where he’s had success in the past and played well. I think that will be the story going in. Can Tiger win two in a row or not? That’s really going to be the storyline going in.
With the PGA Championship moving from late in the summer to May, will players have a bigger challenge with the course?
Everybody is getting used to the new schedule and trying to figure out how they’re going to organize their schedule to be ready for the four majors. We get one each month now—April, May, June and July. The biggest challenge of the PGA Championship moving from August to May is going to be: Are the northern courses, like Bethpage Black or Oakhill coming up, going to be ready condition-wise coming out of the winter? Do they have enough time to get the grass going? We’re just going to have to wait and see. It’s going to open up the possibilities of having different golf courses in the future.
It’s long and hard. I expect it’s going to play even longer in the spring time because it’s not going to get dried out and firm. The ball won’t roll 40 or 50 yards. I expect the longer hitters are going to have a huge advantage.
Everything about Tiger going forward revolves around his body and his physical condition. Clearly, he’s healthy. He came back and won his 15th major at The Masters. While that golf course probably suits him more than Bethpage Black, he’s proved to himself that he can play major championship golf. He had a couple of top 10s last year in majors and now, he won The Masters. He’ll be one of the favorites going into Bethpage. But just because you’re going in as a favorite doesn’t mean everybody else is going to lay down and give you a victory. You have to earn it.
I’m not going to speculate what will happen if he wins two in a row. I think it was great for golf and even greater for Tiger, with everything he’s overcome—the DUI, the scandals, the divorce, injuries to his knees, fusion in his back—it’s been one issue after another that he’s had to overcome. People should respect how hard he’s worked to come back and leave it at that. Let’s see what the future holds. He’s clearly going to be the favorite or amongst the favorites in May. But we’ll have to see what happens.
Well, he has back-to-back U.S. Open wins, so there’s your answer. Brooks Koepka is a tremendous young talent who probably doesn’t get the respect he deserves for how well he’s played. He can easily repeat at Bethpage Black with how he’s played. He hits the ball far enough, a good, strong player. He’s a good putter. I would look at Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, who won two years ago in Charlotte, as the longer hitters who are going to have the advantage.
I don’t think you tame Bethpage Black. I think you try not to get bitten by it. I don’t know what the rough is going to be like because of the growing season differences. There can be a lot of tight pins and approach shots that are fairly long. It’s not going to be a drive or pitching wedge type of golf course. First of all, you have to drive it well. You have to hit your approach shots well. Then, you have to follow it up with decent putting. It’s the standard formula of success to winning for any major.