2-Time PGA Champion Brooks Koepka Optimistic Despite Battling Recent Injuries
Through a series of injuries, Brooks Koepka has woven a career of successes on the PGA Tour. As he prepares to make his ninth career start at the PGA Championship, Koepka once again finds himself in the midst of recovery while also trying to regain the form that earned him back-to-back PGA Championship victories. This week, Koepka makes just his third start since having surgery on his right knee in March.
“For two straight years it's been left knee, right knee, herniated a disc in my neck, played in Tampa or wherever we were, played through that,” Koepka said Tuesday. “I can deal with the pain. That's not an issue. It's just a matter of being able to hit shots that I want to hit and do things I want to do, and I'm starting to be able to do that.”
In April, Koepka returned to the Tour at the Masters Tournament but was in noticeable discomfort. The four-time major champion was unable to bend both knees in order to squat behind the ball to read putts. Instead, he implemented a Spiderman like pose that saw him extend his right leg out straight while bending the left leg in order to try and read the greens.
Koepka missed the cut at Augusta National Golf Club. He took the next month off to undergo additional rehab at his home in South Florida as well as making a trip out to Los Angeles for another week and a half of treatment. Koepka spends two and a half hours every day in rehab.
“I'll give up anything I can do to play, to be out here,” Koepka said. “ It's an easy sacrifice to make.”
Since missing the cut at Augusta National, Koepka has increased his focus on his putting. He says he neglected his short game in lieu of being able to swing a club at the season’s first major. Koepka says he’s now at a point where he’s pain free in hitting nearly every club, except his driver. He’s improved from one out of every 10 to one out of every 20 drivers causing a twinge of pain.
“If it just keeps getting better and better, if instead of one out of every 20 it's one out of every 100, I'm okay with that,” Koepka said.
Last week, Koepka missed the cut in first start since the Masters Tournament at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but he is the first to acknowledge he is still not feeling 100 percent. In fact, his doctors don’t think he’ll be fully healed for another six months. And that’s a challenge Koepka is eager to take on.
“If I beat that, I'm doing something good,” Koepka said about exceeding the doctors’ expectations. “I mean, I can play. You're never 100 percent, that's the thing. Even though I'm not 100 percent, I can still hit the shots.”
Koepka has proven that to be true as he amassed four major championships playing in between injuries.
At the Ocean Course, Koepka will be chasing his third PGA Championship title, a feat that would put him in the company of Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen. While Koepka didn’t play the PGA Championship the last time it was staged at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in 2012, he’s optimistic about his chances, as he says he’s able to walk the course pain-free and swing from a variety of different lies without issue.
“I like this golf course, think it sets up really well for me,” Koepka said, “and I'm excited.”