Golf was one of the last shit-free areas in American sports until Brooks Koepka swaggered his way to his first teeing ground. He would never be Conor McGregor, but cheered by his superhero arm and indomitable belief in himself, Koepka sometimes said things that make the promoters pay per view proud.
It was like on Saturday night, when Koepka was asked how he felt at the start of the PGA Championship’s final round of chasing his friend Dustin Johnson, a year after Johnson nearly knocked him out. at Bethpage. As the double defending champion of the event and four times the grand prize winner, Koepka decided it was time to show Johnson his title case.
“I mean, I like my opportunities,”; Koepka said. “When I was in this position before, I capitalized. I don’t know, he only won one.”
With such friends, who needs a columnist?
Hey, most of us bought what Koepka was selling at TPC-Harding Park in San Francisco. He had a well-known history of conversation initiation, making it easy to imagine his lack of two shots wiped out half a dozen holes in the game.
But something strange happened to Koepka on his way to make history as the first to win three major championships in more than six decades. He started playing like all the one-hit wonders (apart from Johnson) that he consulted on more than once during his Saturday press conference. On the day when 23-year-old winner, Collin Morikawa, shot 64 and showed up after a surreal seven-way match to lead at the back nine, Koepka shot a 4 out of 74, beating exactly one player (Jim Herman) out of the 78 he’s competing with.
One of the 78, after doing an unnecessary dig at a former US Open champion, who deserves more.
Rory McIlroy, perhaps the most thoughtful player of the tour, says he was surprised by that remark, and that at least Koepka should have chosen his target more carefully. McIlroy said of Johnson: “It’s pretty hard to beat a guy who has 21 wins on the PGA Tour,” three times what Brooks has.
Rory’s could be the best hit on a memorable pandemic day, offering a golf brand that can inspire fans to scream all round, if they’re allowed on the pitch. Who would have believed there would be seven players tied at 10 under 10 deep into the round, none of whom were named Brooks Koepka?
But surely, while the golfer up and down the rankings were busy shooting guns in the mid-60s, the arguably favorite looked like one of the 16 regular handicap athletes at the golf course. owned by this city. Playing against Paul Casey, who will shoot 66 and finish second with Johnson, Koepka admits he has been reduced to nothingness after finishing his nine fronts with three consecutive bogeys.
“I’m just there to cheer Paul,” he said.
Built to get in touch with the NFL, Koepka becomes a man of astonishing miniature. CBS cameras have stopped showing him altogether, outrageously outrage at an opponent who calls another man.
“Every time I got stuck today,” Koepka said, “I was probably the worst lie I’ve had for a whole week … Hey, that’s not it. Three in a row, you’re not real. having to do two things in a row when looking at history, but that’s okay [majors] the rest of the season and we’ll find it out from there. “
On any other day that goes bad, Koepka will have the benefit of doubt. He struggled with a significant knee injury before going on to win in Memphis, Tennessee, last week. This PGA championship could be a long throw for him, a bridge to returning to full health and perhaps, pushing his chances at fifth major win at the September US Open or Masters November.
But he said what he said on Saturday and there will be consequences if he doesn’t respect his words. Not that this would be the last time Koepka spoke more like a mixed martial artist than a golfer. The man who claims professional players are more likely to win than minors, because so many players on the pitch do not have his skill and preparation for pressure, has a long history of He goes from kicking to green batting.
Koepka prides itself on being an athlete first, rather than an archetypal golfer, and as a sole force on tour. “I’m not close to any of the guys here,” he recently told Golfweek in an interview in which he said his reported friendship with Johnson was “overblown”. “.
Koepka has denied claims he had fights with Johnson after the 2018 Ryder Cup, but there is no question that they used to be roommates and trained together at a gym in Jupiter, Florida. Johnson used to be the more prominent player. Maybe after beating Johnson in two major tournaments in Long Island, New York – at Shinnecock in 2018 and at Bethpage in 2019 – Koepka thought he could flex his muscles at Harding Park and remind Remind his friend / free enemy / old friend that he will be the one overshadowed forward.
Finally on Sunday, Koepka was lucky that Johnson’s number 68 was not good enough to win his second major title. But this isn’t about Johnson as much as about the 74-shot guy who looks completely exhausted at his last hole while he completes his sixth shot.
Brooks Koepka finally gave in. And that is the biggest sadness of the day.