During my podcast last week I mentioned how anyone with 3 majors can be so overlooked and fly under the radar such as Brooks Koepka. It almost sounds ridiculous to even say out loud. Now with 4 majors in 2 years, I guess the man has finally earned enough respect to be talked about; which also sounds foolish when said out loud.
Brooks Koepka knows he’s not often talked about in the comparison with Tiger, Rory, Jordan, and DJ. It bothers him and he lets us know it bothers him. So he plays with a little chip on his shoulder. Nobody has had a stronger mental approach going into majors since Tiger, and since Jack before him. It’s more than self-belief. Brooks figures he realistically only has to beat about 25% of the field, because the other 75% have freaked themselves out so much they are out of contention before they tee it up on Thursday. Interesting approach to say the least, but it’s not just the mental edge. There are courses for horses. And there wasn’t a better horse for Bethpage Black than Brooks. The course is a bear with only one par 3 under 200 yards, 1 par 4 under 400 yards, and 1 par 5 under 600 yards. Most of the greens are elevated and surrounded by danger. They are not designed to receive long irons and hybrids, especially when running at a 14 on the stimpmeter. So hitting mid to short irons on approaches is a huge advantage, and how do you do that? Hit it long off the tee. Not just long but you have to hit the fairway. All of these needed components are par for the course when Koepka is on his game. And more often than not, at majors he is on his game.
When Koepka made his 3rd straight bogey late on Sunday, and his lead was down to just 1 shot, the gallery at 14 began to chant “DJ, DJ, DJ”……..who had just made birdie on 15. How did that make Brooks feel; that the gallery was chanting for the guy now in second place and wasn’t even in the same group? I’ll let you guess. It made him angry and forced him to refocus. The next tee he ripped a drive and hit a must needed fairway. Soon his lead was back to 3 strokes and it was smooth sailing. Some of us play better when we are in a good mood; when we are carefree and all is right with the world. Some play their best golf with a little fire and are a little mad. Brooks Koepka plays his best when he is downright angry, even though he doesn’t show it physically or emotionally. Inside he is fuming.
Not only has Brooks won 4 majors in 2 years, but he has also tied for 2nd at the Master and tied for 6th at the British Open in the same timeframe. He is only the second player since the PGA went to a stroke-play event in 1958 to win back-to-back PGA Championships. The other was that Tiger guy; twice (1999 & 2000, 2006 & 2007). Ben Hogan, Curtis Strange, and Brooks Koepka are the only 3 players in history to win back-to-back U.S. Opens. In a month, at Pebble Beach, Brooks has a chance to be the first to win 3 in a row. I mean, he has to be the favorite right? If you say otherwise, he’ll hear you, then go out and shoot 62 in the first round and remind you once again……..stop doubting him.
Enjoy the game and each other,
Written by Seth Zipay – Golf HQ Head Golf Professional
Published by Craig Walton