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Opinion & Analysis

Brooks Koepka’s coach, Claude Harmon III, on BK’s PGA Championship victory, working with the game’s best, and more

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Coming fresh off the celebration of Brooks Koepka’s fourth major win, Koepka’s long-time coach, Claude Harmon III chatted with Johnny Wunder as he was just about to hop on a plane back to The Floridian.

Here are the highlights of their conversation.

JW: Claude how you doin’?

CH3: Uh, I’m hungover!

JW: Brooks is walking off the 18th green after another major triumph. What is the first thing you guys said to each other?

CH3: Well, obviously there was a lot of emotion in that moment, but he told me it was the happiest he has ever been on the golf course, and after everything he’s done, that’s a big statement.

For him to put in all the hard work and to fight as hard as he did on a golf course that completely changed on the last day and come out on top makes me extremely grateful to be a part of the team that supports that. I believe he will find out more about himself from getting through the final nine holes than he would if he would have had a parade coming in and won by seven.

JW: That’s a great point. It seems like he is more apt to win even more majors based on that back nine than he would have otherwise.

CH3: I don’t think if you were watching it on TV you could have any appreciation for just how difficult it was. What DJ did yesterday was impossible and having that up ahead applies even more pressure to a leader. Ricky Elliott and BK are looking at the scoreboard and seeing DJ and 3 under and having no idea how that’s even possible. It was that tough.

JW: I think Brooks stubbornness is part of his true greatness. Would you agree?

CH3: His perspective constantly was “I’m still in the lead and someone is going to have to catch me and this golf course is extremely difficult.” Even after all the bogeys on the back side, he still controlled the lead and kept that mantra. The crowd yelling “DJ! DJ!” actually didn’t piss him off, it woke him up and made him want to hit a good drive and show the crowd he was still leading.

JW: How did yesterday compare to Shinnecock? 

CH3: At Shinnecock it was an interesting situation because Fleetwood…posted before BK was even off and in that case, Brooks said it was like playing against a ghost. No matter what he does, Tommy isn’t going to make any more mistakes or change in any way. That’s a tough scenario when you are staring at a number that won’t move for 5 1/2 hours.

JW: What do Brooks and DJ have that people can learn from.

CH3: It’s funny because we hear these cliches in sports psychology all the time, but I believe those two are the living embodiment of ONE SHOT AT A TIME. They don’t look back. Ever.

JW: Speaking on DJ. I’m watching the back nine and thinking to myself this guy is playing out of his mind, it was literally a battle of the best.

CH3: We talk about it all the time in golf, what we always want is the two best players in the world going toe to toe. We had that yesterday and I hope as time goes by we can look at this final round as a battle we will be talking about for a long time. Best players in the world on a tough but fair golf course with the ultimate prize on the line. In situations like this when there is this kind of pressure and these stakes you can look at the leaderboard and see the cream rising to the top. Rory, DJ, Jordan all with good rounds on a really tough day.

JW: You met Brooks in 2013, he showed up in his mom’s beat up Explorer and don’t know him at all. What was your first impression?

CH3: I was introduced to him by Pete Uihlein, his old roommate, and at first glance, he had raw talent and a ton of speed, but no plan. At the time he was hitting a draw and was uncomfortable with that. He told me his current coach wanted him to hit draws, and I said well that’s your fault, not your coach’s. It’s the player’s responsibility to manage himself and the information he’s comfortable with. When we worked on him getting into a fade, he started to click and he turned to me and said “it can’t be this easy.” My reply was “it has to be this easy!” At that level, under the gun, it better be easy. [Golf is] tough enough already.

JW: What were his career goals early on?

CH3: Even then, he wanted to be an elite player who won multiple majors. I was coaching Ernie Els at the time who had just won his fourth major and Brooks was on the Challenge Tour. He was committed to getting there but needed guidance, someone with a plan that wasn’t just his golf swing. Obviously, it worked out.

JW: What would you say is the Harmon secret to getting the best players in the world to peak as often as you guys do?

CH3: My dad told me: “What you don’t say is just as important as what you do say.” At the Masters this year Brooks, in practice, was really struggling. Look, it’s Masters week and I’m not going to go in there and start putting thoughts in his head. At that point, if this is a shuttle launch, we are in the cockpit and there is no turning back. My dad always had his guys have a go-to shot that they “knew” they could hit. Brooks calls it his “fairway finder” which is a squeeze off fade with a driver. I told him to hit a couple of those knowing it might spur some confidence. After a few absolutely flushed missiles, his confidence went up and he turned to me and said…”fairway finder all day.” The rest is history.

JW: You coach DJ, Brooks, Jimmy Walker and Rickie. Describe each in one word

JW: DJ
CH3: Natural

JW: Brooks
CH3: Tough MF

JW: Rickie
CH3: Genuine

JW: Jimmy
CH3: Soulful

JW: Thanks old friend
CH3: Talk soon, thanks man.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Boss of the moss

    May 21, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    Best article on here in a while

    Honest and informative

    More interviews with tour players, coaches, tour van equipment interviews as well, less opinion pieces. Thanks

  2. T-Bone

    May 21, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    What DJ did on the final day was impossible? There were 7 other 69’s, along with his. And 2 68’s. Yes, Brooks won. But I don’t see how he can feel that good with 4 over in the final round.

    • Mike Kutilek

      May 22, 2019 at 1:16 pm

      The 7 other 69’s and the 68’s were all earlier in the day before the wind got crazy. Of the last 12 groups only DJ was par or better.

  3. Borat S

    May 21, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Brooks is boring yawnnnnnnnnnnn. Like my sister.

  4. Stephen Peltier

    May 20, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    I was wondering when the Harmons would start getting their due. What do Tiger and Brooks have in common? Harmon.

  5. Benjamin Wright

    May 20, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    must be nice being given that stable of players from your dad

  6. Michael D Christiansen

    May 20, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    Tough MF, I love it. Just going to get tougher.

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19th Hole

GolfWRXers Vote: Best U.S. Open venue showdown

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Following on from our Golf Movie Madness contest which saw GolfWRXers vote “Caddyshack” the best golf film ever, we thought it was time to up the ante and find out the GolfWRX consensus on one of the more debated subjects in golf—U.S. Open host venues.

We’re matching off the last 16 U.S. Open venues to find out what GolfWRXers think is the ultimate U.S. Open course.

As with our Golf Movie Madness contest, we’ll leave voting open for 48 hours for the first eight head-to-heads. At that time, we’ll determine the winners and matchups for the next four games.

So get voting below and let’s find out who GolfWRXers crown as the ultimate U.S. Open course!

 

*Years hosted, winners and avg. winning score from 1950 onwards*

Game 1

Pebble Beach

  • Years Hosted: 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019
  • Winners: Nicklaus (+2), Watson (-6), Kite (-3), Woods (-12), McDowell (E), Woodland (-13)
  • Avg. winning score: -5.33

Torrey Pines SC

  • Years Hosted: 2008
  • Winners: Woods (-1)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

U.S. Open Game 1

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Game 2

Oakland Hills SC

  • Years Hosted: 1951, 1961, 1985,1996
  • Winners: Hogan (+7), Littler (+1), North (-1), Jones (-2)
  • Avg. winning score: +1.25

Winged Foot GC

  • Years Hosted: 1959, 1974, 1984, 2006
  • Winners: Casper (+2), Irwin (+7), Zoeller (-7), Ogilvy (+5)
  • Avg. winning score: +1.75

U.S. Open Game 2

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Game 3

Chambers Bay

  • Years Hosted: 2015
  • Winners: Spieth (-5)
  • Avg. winning score: -5

Baltusrol GC

  • Years Hosted: 1954, 1967, 1980, 1993
  • Winners: Furgol (+4), Nicklaus (-5), Nicklaus (-8), Janzen (-8)
  • Avg. winning score: -4.25

U.S. Open Game 3

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Game 4

Pinehurst Resort (No 2.)

  • Years Hosted: 1995, 2005, 2014
  • Winners: Stewart (-1), Campbell (E), Kaymer (-9)
  • Avg. winning score: -3.33

Olympic Club

  • Years Hosted: 1955, 1966, 1987, 1998, 2012
  • Winners: Fleck (+7), Casper (-2), Simpson (-3), Janzen (E), W. Simpson (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: +0.75

U.S. Open Game 4

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Game 5

Oakmont CC

  • Years Hosted: 1953, 1962, 1973, 1983, 1994, 2007, 2016
  • Winners: Hogan (-5), Nicklaus (-1), Miller (-5), Nelson (-4), Els (-5), Cabrera (+5), Johnson (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -2.71

Bethpage Black

  • Years Hosted: 2002, 2009
  • Winners: Woods (-3), Glover (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -3.5

U.S. Open Game 5

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Game 6

Southern Hils CC

  • Years Hosted: 1958, 1977, 2001
  • Winners: Bolt (+3), Green (-2), Goosen (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

Olympia Fields CC

  • Years Hosted: 2003
  • Winners: Furyk (-8)
  • Avg. winning score: -8

U.S. Open Game 6

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Game 7

Merion GC

  • Years Hosted: 1950, 1971, 1981, 2013
  • Winners: Hogan (+7), Trevino (E), Graham (-7), Rose (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: (+0.25)

Erin Hills

  • Years Hosted: 2017
  • Winners: Koepka (-16)
  • Avg. winning score: -16

U.S. Open Game 7

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Game 8

Congressional CC

  • Years Hosted: 1964, 1997, 2011
  • Winners: Venturi (-2), Els (-4), McIlroy (-16)
  • Avg. winning score: -7.33

Shinnecock Hills GC

  • Years Hosted: 1986, 1995, 2004, 2018
  • Winners: Floyd (-1), Pavin (E), Goosen (-4), Koepka (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

U.S. Open Game 8

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Opinion & Analysis

Retro golf video game review: CyberTiger for N64

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Being stuck at home indoors as spring officially arrives stinks—period. Now with that in mind, we also hope that everyone out there, along with your family and friends, are healthy, happy, and safe.

Like others around the world, we at GolfWRX are doing our part to stay home and catch up on both television and video games while also supplying you with the most interesting ways to keep engaged in the game we love. Speaking of video games, one of my all-time favorite systems is the Nintendo 64 and to me, it is still home to one of the most fun (albeit not highly ranked) golf games of all time: CyberTiger.

Cyber Tiger for Nintedo 64 was released in 1999 and fits securely in the category of arcadey and fun golf. Compared to other N64 games released around the same time period, the graphics leave something to be desired, but considering the style and forgiveness of the gameplay nearly 30 years later, we can let it slide.

Gameplay

The gameplay is simple and overall very forgiving for any level of gamer. The only difficult thing for some to get a handle on right off the bat is shots around the greens. You are only given the option to either chip, pitch, or attempt a very limited full shot—it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it but starting out its easy to see how this part of the gameplay can be frustrating.

Game modes are as straightforward as you can imagine: stroke play, match play, tournament mode, practice range, and Tiger Challenge. The latter being one of the most fun in multiplayer since you get to remove a club from your opponent’s bag if you win the hole.

Characters

Options here are extremely limited and include—Tiger Woods, Mark O’Meara—no seriously that’s it for actual tour golfers. Beyond those two, you are given the option of Lil’ Tiger (Teenage Tiger), Lil’ Mark (Teenage Mark), and then a handful of no-name brandless figures, including Chip and Mia. One thing to note is there are a number of ridiculous characters easily unlockable using cheat codes, but for what it’s worth, playing as a teenage Tiger is still a lot of fun. (Hint: UFO)

Courses

Since this is a cartridge Nintendo 64 game, memory is at a premium and courses are limited. There was licensing in place from the PGA Tour which allows for a “Best of TPC” composite course as one of the initial options and features a selection of holes at TPC Sawgrass.  Beyond that many are hard to recognize in the hole-by-hole setting of the game.

Not to fret though, there is a total of five courses in the game, which can also be unlocked using cheat codes easily found online. I realize five courses seem beyond limited in today’s world, but they offer enough variety and fun that whether playing alone or against a friend it never feels overly repetitive.

Overall

If you happen to find yourself with a few hours to kill and have a Nintendo 64 (or an emulator), I highly recommend finding a copy of Cyber Tiger and taking your best shot at a few tournaments or playing against a friend. If nothing else, it might take you back to when you were 14 and had nothing else to do on a rainy day when you couldn’t make it to the course.

 

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Podcasts

TG2: Knudson’s new driver and boutique vs. big manufacturer clubs

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New SIM Max driver is finally here and Knudson tosses an old faithful shaft in it. New irons should show up this week and talk about how clubs from “boutique” companies stack up against the big manufacturers.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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