It’s Brooks Koepka’s world, everyone plays in it

Brooks Koepka relaxes for his second big win of the year.  (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Brooks Koepka relaxes for his second big win of the year. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Not too long ago — February 15, to be exact — Brooks Koepka looked cashed in to any reasonable eye. Cooked. Wash. Choose your synonym for “finished” and it suits you. February 15 marked the debut of “Full Swing,” the Netflix series that follows a dozen of the world’s best players. Koepka had won more majors than almost any, but certainly didn’t seem to be among them. Broken, lost, staring at a vast empty shelf in his home reserved for a trophy that never seemed to come, Koepka’s story was deemed so depressing that Netflix producers moved it from first to second in order. .

It’s funny the difference a few months make.

Koepka sat down for his British Open press conference on Tuesday morning looking like a man with the world at his feet. Sporting a snow-white Nike cap and a skin-tight sweater – the better to show off his very ungolfing arms – Koepka exuded the kind of easy jock confidence that his Netflix episode completely lacked.

And why not? It’s only been blue skies since those dark days last spring. Koepka signed with LIV and banked millions – maybe tens of millions, maybe more – while finding his game again, dueling Jon Rahm on Masters Sunday and winning the PGA Championship, his fifth major, in May.

This run brought back memories of 2018 and 2019, when Koepka was virtually untouchable. During this run, he won three of the seven major tournaments he played in and finished in the top four in three others. When asked if he felt like he was maintaining his major form from earlier in the year, Koepka replied in his terse shooting style.

“I feel like I’m playing just as well. I still feel pretty disciplined, focused. The game is there. I trained a lot,” he said. “He’s a major, so I should probably be in,” he added with a slight smile.

Standing up for it has been Koepka’s whole philosophy for most of his career. He has nine PGA Tour wins, including five majors.

He’s also twice won the LIV Golf Tour, if that matters… which, for Koepka, doesn’t seem to. Unlike his LIV brethren, who strutted around and tried to convince golf fans that anyone, anywhere cares about RangeGoats or 4Aces, Koepka approached his LIV career the same way you approach garden work – a necessary task rewarding in itself, but nothing to celebrate. He didn’t even visibly sport logos for his own team — Smash GC, but you knew that — when he spoke to the media on Tuesday.

Instead, he has worked to downplay the planned partnership between LIV Golf’s financial parent company, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund and the PGA Tour. He avoided requests for global analysis (“I don’t have enough information on this to even know how to feel, what to think”) and avoided tilting his hand in any direction (“I don’t I have no control over anything. Why am I going to worry about something I can’t control?”).

“It’s a bunch of scenarios and storylines and nothing is finalized,” he later said. “You don’t count the winner here on Saturday just because he’s top of the standings. You wait until Sunday to find out. When all is said and done, we’ll see what happens.

And why should he worry about what’s next? If the PGA Tour-LIV Golf partnership has a real winner, it’s Koepka. He jumped to LIV when the money came, got in shape to win a major, won a major and played another, and now finds the whole golf world has caught up since months. He doesn’t have to worry about major exemptions for at least five years.

He also avoided all the personality clashes and drama that erupted between the two tours. Unlike, say, Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson, he didn’t take shots or make enemies of his former Tour allies.

“I’ve always been friends with all those guys,” he said Tuesday. “We have all been friends. We see each other again. I think everyone thinks there’s this [rift] with LIV and the PGA TOUR that players are actually divided, and I don’t think that’s the case at all.

A win this week would only put Koepka one green jacket away from a career Grand Slam. He’s one of the favorites to win, not far behind Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler – the same Scottie Scheffler Koepka watched longingly and desperately on that Netflix show, last year and so long ago.

NOW? Now he walks with a goal and a stride, ready to enter Hall of Fame territory with a major sixth. When asked which part of his game he felt most confident about this week, Koepka didn’t hesitate.

“I hope all of that,” he said. “I’ll let you know on Sunday. »

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