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Brooks Koepka, a machine built to win majors

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Brooks Koepka is your 2018 PGA Champion. Of his 4 PGA Tour victories, 3 have come at major events, all of which have come in the past 14 months. He has won a U.S. Open that played like a PGA (Erin Hills), a U.S. Open that played like a British Open (Shinnecock) and now, a PGA that played like a PGA, at Bellerive in St. Louis. What do we make of this 28-year old, born and bred Floridian, who doesn’t appear to win often, but makes it count when he does? That depends on the units with which you choose to measure his performance. Have a look at his most recent performance, a 2-shot win over Tiger Woods at the 2018 PGA Championship.

  • Birdies: 22 in total, 13 on the front nine
  • Bogeys: 4 total, 2 on each nine
  • Double Bogeys: 1
  • Eagles: 0

Out of 72 holes, it might be said, Koepka made 5 mistakes that counted. That’s not a lot. He made two consecutive mistakes on the front nine on Sunday, but countered those two holes later, with three consecutive birdies. Koepka also bogeyed consecutive hole in round three, on the inward half. Similarly, he made a birdie soon after, to regain momentum. On Thursday, when he made double bogey on the par-3 5th hole, he made all pars before and after, until the 11th. From that point on, it was 3 birdies and 5 pars. What we see from him is an incredibly precise performance, where mistakes are minimized and opportunities, maximized.

Koepka is no fool. He knows his initial strength is distance off the tee, and he utilized it to perfection at Bellerive. After round two, he commented,

“I like the way the golf course sets up. People talk about it turns right-to-left, but you’ve always got a bunker on the inside of the turn, but I can carry most of them, so it’s not really a big deal that the holes turn right-to-left, you can kind of get away with it with my length.”

Yes, Brooks, you can, but only if you are accurate when the ball returns to Earth. After three performances where he outplayed the best from two generations, we might become believers. During the same interview, Koepka revealed a bit more about who he is, and what he does, during a major week:

“More attention to detail. More mentally focused, more every shot really, really means something. You drop a shot or two, it’s, you really put yourself back. There’s a lot more focus that I have in the Majors, the preparation, I mean everyone on my team even says I act a little different, the way I approach it. It’s very down to a routine this week and other weeks sometimes, not saying I vary from the routine, but it’s much more disciplined. Eating right, going to the gym, it’s almost timed perfectly.”

None of those things is impossible to emulate. I’m certain that Rickie Fowler does them, and I’m positive that Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, and Tiger Woods do so as well. None of them hoisted the Wannamaker trophy this week, so something that Koepka does, or has, or know, continues to pay off.

It might be absolute comfort in his skin. Koepka told a story about a workout he had with perennial partner, Dustin Johnson, this week at Life Time Fitness in St. Louis. In his words,

“Today I was in there with Dustin and everybody wanted a picture with Dustin. They were talking about him as we left and I was just standing there laughing. They were like, did you see that No. 1 player in the world was here. It’s like, yeah, okay. I don’t know what to say to that. It was like, all right.”

I’d certainly be tempted to jump in and tell the ogglers who I am, but that’s not Koepka. He doesn’t have the DJ beard, the DJ bent wrist, the DJ wife/daughter of a hockey legend. It’s only about Brooks Koepka, albeit not in an egocentric way. The egotist approaches the ogglers and tells them who he is. Koepka focuses on self: I’m just focused on me. I feel like, if I do what I’m supposed to, I should win the golf tournament. That’s not arrogance, that’s not delusion. He is good, good enough to win each time he tees it up. Is he proud of his first tour win, at the Phoenix Open? For sure. Is he prouder of the three that came next? Without a doubt. The stakes continue to increase, and Koepka rises to the occasion.

Remember, too, that Koepka lost a sizable chunk of this season. He shut his game down after injuring his wrist. A late-2017 surgery kept him out of action through the Masters, an event that now seems tailored to his style of golf. Not a large muscle that heals quickly, but a part of the body with so many moving parts. A part of the body so essential to the execution of every golf shot. If that threat doesn’t give one pause, and later, gratitude, then one has missed the point.

In 1986, Greg Norman and Severiano Ballesteros were the two best golfers in the world. Jack Nicklaus was not, a relic from another era, whose most recent win had come six years prior. When the Golden Bear began to make noise at Augusta National, Norman and Ballesteros folded. Fast forward 32 years, to the footsteps of another forest creature, Tiger Woods. Woods posted 8 birdies for 64 on Sunday at Bellerive. He reached the number (-14) that I suggested yesterday would be enough to win, except it wasn’t. Why not? Koepka, unlike Norman and Ballesteros, rose to the challenge.

Brooks Koepka has joined a small group of golfers with three major victories. He now has two distinct major titles on his resume, and will certainly be one of the favorites at all four majors next year. From 1903 to 1905, Willie Anderson was the only man to raise the unnamed trophy. In 2019, Koepka might join him at at Pebble Beach. He might put on a green jacket in Georgia, in April. He also might grasp a trophy named for a specific wine, at Royal Portrush, in Northern Ireland.

See Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Paul

    Aug 14, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    Let’s not get carried away. Saw this with Rory, say this with Spieth, Day, Johnson….why does someone always have to be anointed “the next.” BK has but an incredible 14mo of golf together, no doubt about it, but before that 1 win.

  2. Chuck Barkley

    Aug 13, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    Can he just be the next Brooks Koepka? I’m thinking he’s gonna rack up a fair amount of majors before it’s all said and done! Get after it BK!

    • Ronald Montesano

      Aug 14, 2018 at 7:55 am

      Chuck,

      I do my best to not project greatness or Next-ness onto young golfers. I’ve seen too many junior golfers in western New York, touted as as sure tour thing, or the great one, who buy into the hype (with parents, pros, media, fans) and never have a chance to become what they might have. I agree with you 100 percent.

  3. orangeology

    Aug 13, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    finally the Golfbot2018 Tour Proven

  4. Mike Garcia

    Aug 13, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    I think everyone wanted Speith to be the next “Tiger” (why don’t we hear the term “Bear Apparent” anymore?) It looks like Justin Thomas, his close friend is the real “Jordan Speith”. In an eerie parallel I think that Brooks Koepka is going to be the real “Dustin Johnson”.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Aug 13, 2018 at 4:54 pm

      That’s an outstanding take, Mike.

    • Ev

      Aug 14, 2018 at 9:57 pm

      Totally agree with you.
      Justin Thomas looks like the real deal. Outstanding golf by BK but he’s rather average in other tournaments.

  5. dog flog

    Aug 13, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Koepka’s placid demeanor, his quiet, unwavering focus and ability to produce under pressure are positively Hoganesque. Incredibly impressive and a joy to watch.

    • commoner

      Aug 13, 2018 at 3:14 pm

      What are we going to do about him? He brings a rare (for athletes) high level of maturity to the game. He does not engage in imbecilic histrionics. He demonstrates admirable etiquette during and after play. And not least, heroically suffers fools.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Aug 13, 2018 at 4:54 pm

      Couldn’t you technically fit 2 of Hogan in Koepka 🙂

  6. dat

    Aug 13, 2018 at 9:28 am

    I feel like he is going to win a few more times this year alone. He is unstoppable when he drives it that well.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Aug 13, 2018 at 4:56 pm

      Won’t bet against that posit.

    • Ev

      Aug 14, 2018 at 10:15 pm

      I really think Brooks peaked at the right time. In his 2 missed cuts this year he shot 77 and 78.
      He’s not particularly straight off the tee box. Yes his driver was off the charts at the pga and us open but combine all tournaments this year and he ranks 163rd on tour in driving accuracy, 53rd in greens and 132nd in total putting.
      He’s gotten his game to pack at the last 2 majors but I’m curious to see how he performs the rest of the year.

  7. acew/7iron

    Aug 13, 2018 at 8:25 am

    I dont think the golf universe can handle another TW win…much less at a major. It feels like a publicity fire ant mount the size of Mt Everest just waiting to explode if/when he pulls one off.
    If that win was a Major it would probably shut the golf channel down from sheer orgasmic activity from the income stream and minute by minute coverage it just produced.

    No opinion on TW winning again either way but I dont look forward to what happens next if he does.

  8. The dude

    Aug 13, 2018 at 3:27 am

    he needs 4 more majors to get noticed…….not sure why…he’s got it all…???

    • Ronald Montesano

      Aug 13, 2018 at 6:43 am

      He is low key. He doesn’t get incessantly promoted by his equipment company … because he doesn’t have one. He plays Mizuno irons, which a lot of guys on tour would play if the money all went away, I’m told. He is soft-spoken and doesn’t have an image or a bunch of non-golf advertising contracts. It will be interesting to see if he gets offers this off-season. I see him as a Patrick John Warburton, kind of guy. Completely likable, self-effacing, driven.

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Tour Photo Galleries

Interesting photos from Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Championship

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This week, the PGA Tour is at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Wells Fargo Championship. GolfWRX was on-site Tuesday to spy a glimpse into the bags of some of the world’s top golfers where the field is getting ready to play starting Thursday for the $8.1 million purse, with the winner going home with just over $1.45 million dollars and the important 500 FedEx Cup points.

Don’t forget you can check out all our image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.

New Ping irons and wedges spotted

It’s a big week at the Wells Fargo for Ping, with the official tour launch of the new i59 irons and Glide Forged Pro wedges. We are still seeking out the full tech, and potential release info, but you can join the discussion about the new gear in the GolfWRX forums: Ping i59 irons – 2021 Wells Fargo Championship

That’s one way to make a site line

Although he is still one of the better ball-strikers on tour, Lucas Glover’s difficulty with the putter has been well documented. We spotted him on the putting green at Quail Hollow making an improvised site line on his Scotty Cameron Newport 2. Those Sharpies are good for more than just signing autographs!

Very unique hosel on this Odyssey

This Odyssey widebody putter has its plumber’s neck hosel very close to the center of the topline to reduce toe hang and offer a one-of-a-kind view in the address position.

Bettinardi prototype high toe mallet

This Hexperimental Proto from the folks at Bettinardi looks like the milled steel lovechild of their Studio Stock 17 and a Queen Bee 11. It combines the high-toe look with a bumpered mallet.

Jason Day working with a new putter

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: the Bryson effect is real. This week, it looks like Jason Day has moved to a SIK putter paired with an LA Golf putter shaft after a very long run with a TaylorMade Spider.

Speaking of Jason Day and new gear…

The new SIK putter was seen in the bag with no backup in sight and a new wedge (under plastic). Super bonus points for the Augusta National pro shop (only for Members and guests) accessories bag Day is using—that’s serious golf drip.

Wyndham Clark PXG irons confirmed

IMG_9688.jpeg

After some speculation about their existence, we now have confirmation that the irons being used by Wyndham Clark are a yet-to-be-released PXG Gen 4 0311 ST (Super Tour) blade. You can see more pictures of the iron here: GolfWRX Forums In hand Gen4 0311 ST irons

Xander’s got a lot of headcovers in there

Xander Schauffele must be on the lookout for some new fairway woods, because he had five different options under headcovers on the range at Quail Hollow. Maybe he has a few of those Triple Diamond Epic Speeds under there? GolfWRX Spotted: Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond fairway wood

Rickie working on a lot, including his tempo

Rickie had a lot going on at the range on Tuesday and one of the more interesting things of note was an iron shafted with a Fujikura MCI tempo trainer.

Dufner with new Cobra putter

The search for a putter seems to be nonstop for Jason Dufner at the moment and after some time with an oversized Cobra mallet, it looks like he has moved onto something a little smaller and with a bit more toe hang.

Smiling assassin Sungjae Im

If you were inside the top 25 on the FedEx Cup and playing as well as Sungjae is right now, you’d probably be smiling too.

Rafa is rolling one very nice Scotty Cameron

When it comes to Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, the “Timeless” Newport 2 style stands alone and Rafa’s custom looks really good from here.

You can check out all the pictures from Tuesday of the Wells Fargo in the links below

2021 Wells Fargo – Tuesday #1

2021 Wells Fargo – Tuesday #2

2021 Wells Fargo – Tuesday #3

2021 Wells Fargo – Tuesday #4

2021 Wells Fargo – Tuesday #5

Bettinardi putters & covers – 2021 Wells Fargo

Ping i59 irons – 2021 Wells Fargo Championship

New Ping Glide Forged Pro wedge – 2021 Wells Fargo

Behind the scenes on the PXG truck – 2021 Wells Fargo

PXG Gen 4 0311 T & 0311 ST irons – 2021 Wells Fargo

Jason Day testing a SIK putter with LA Golf shaft – 2021 Wells Fargo

Scotty Cameron T2 putter – 2021 Wells Fargo

KH Lee’s Odyssey putter – – 2021 Wells Fargo

Patrick Cantlay’s Cameron T-5 – 2021 Wells Fargo

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Interesting photos from Tuesday at the Valspar Championship: Part 2

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This week, the PGA Tour is at Innisbrook Resort on the Copperhead course in Palm Harbor, Florida, for the Valspar Championship, where 2019 champion Paul Casey is looking to defend his title. The field of 156 is getting ready to battle starting Thursday for the $6.9 million purse with $1.24 million going to the winner.

GolfWRX was on-site Tuesday to spy a glimpse into the bags of some of the world’s top golfers and we had so many images that were bringing you a part two!

Don’t forget you can check out all our image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.

Kevin Kisner is back to old faithful

Although the putter is new (Odyssey 2-Ball Ten), the length is something familiar for Kevin Kisner this week at the Valspar Championship. After a couple of week of testing the armlock style, it looks like he is going back to a more convention length.

DJ is sticking with the Brandon 1

After putting it into play for the final round of the RBC Heritage, it looks like Dustin Johnson is sticking with a new TaylorMade Brandon 1 prototype putter and LA golf graphite putter shaft. If this putter seems familiar, it’s because we saw Tommy Fleetwood put something very similar into play a couple of weeks ago too.

Chris Kirk is taking a 5-year leap with a new Cobra driver

Equipment free agent Chris Kirk is not one to switch often—his most recent driver was the under-the-radar classic Callaway 2016 Big Bertha.

But on the putting green this week we spotted Kirk testing a Cobra RadSpeed model, which could mean he’s ready to take a big five-year leap in driver tech.

Did someone say Cobra?

We also spotted James Hahn testing a RadSpeed in a Tuesday practice round. Bonus points to Hahn for the awesome socks!

Tom Lewis has a real superhero setup

Custom covers paired with a Callaway combo set featuring limited edition “Japanese forged” Apex blades. Tom Lewis has an aspirational set of sticks.

Phil is at the Valspar and ready to paint the town red – with birdies

Phil was a late addition to the field at the Valspar this year, but he’s looking in tip-top shape as he preps for the year’s second major, the PGA Championship. Speaking of tip-top shape…

Bodyguard or caddy?

Before Phil made his way to the putting green, the first man on the scene was his caddy who also looks to moonlight as a bouncer in his spare time.

Ryan Armour has one awesome Scotty Cameron

How cool is this Circle T?

Thumbs up for Team Rose

Justin has been using an Axis1 putter for a number of years now, but we did catch him messing around with some different grip options on his preferred Rose signature model.

Grace is still on “Auto” pilot

It has been well documented that a number of golfers have tested the Autoflex shaft, but many have gone back to previous models after only a few weeks. Branden Grace made the switch close to a month ago and it seems that its still going strong in the bag.

Dufner is a grinder

We caught Jason Dufner working on his short-range putting using his prototype 3D printed Cobra putter. Although we don’t have all the details this new design packs some seriously high MOI based on its geometry. (below photo is from a previous event)

JJ’s has some top choices in the bag

JJ Spaun is one of the quiet equipment free agents on the PGA Tour, but he has quite the setup that includes the very popular Srixon ZX7 irons and a Ping G425 driver with Fujikura Ventus. On a personal note, I had the chance to caddie in a PGA Tour Pro-Am a number of years ago where our pro was JJ, and he could not have been a nicer guy. Go, JJ!

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Tour Photo Galleries

Most interesting photos from Tuesday at the Valspar Championship

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This week, the PGA Tour is at Innisbrook Resort on the Copperhead course in Palm Harbor, Florida, for the Valspar Championship, where 2019 champion Paul Casey is looking to defend his title. The field of 156 is getting ready to battle starting Thursday for the $6.9 million purse with $1.24 million going to the winner. GolfWRX was on-site Tuesday to spy a glimpse into the bags of some of the world’s top golfers.

Don’t forget you can check out all our image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.

Never stop working on the short ones

A putting mat like this is one of the most compact and useful tools you can use when it comes to practicing putts on a green—or even a hotel carpet. In the case of tour players, I suggest a putting green whenever possible.

Yonex blades looking sharp

Although most golfers thinking about the brand Yonex will still usually default to early-career Phil Mickelson, the brand is still alive and well and producing some great-looking irons, including these blades.

Sam Horsfield is a wizard on the greens

This week at the Valspar, Sam is using a custom weld-neck Bettinardi with a sight dot. The reason for the welded neck is to move the hosel closer to the middle of the head to reduce toe hang.

The “other” Koepka is in the field

Although Brooks is out, Chase Koepka is teeing it up this week, and just like his brother, he has a mixed bag of gear featuring multiple brands that includes Vokey wedges and some custom-stamped Mizuno JPX-921 Tours.

Battle of the mullets

Its looks like we could have a battle brewing for the most glorious mullet on the PGA Tour. In one corner, the current champion Cameron Smith, and in the other corner, the challenger: Keith Mitchell’s caddy “Crunchy” Pete Persolja!

I mean, just look at that glorious flow!

Jimmy Walker likes nice things

Now this is a Scotty Cameron putter!

The PGA Tour needs to get reciprocals

Seeing the MLB logo on Adam Long’s bag hopefully comes with tickets to whatever games he wants to see. My next question would be “How do we get a PGA Tour logo on an MLB’s player’s sleeve?”

You can take the Canadian out of hockey…

…but you can’t take the hockey out of the Canadian. We spotted Adam Hadwin working on his release “feels” with what looked to be a very slapshot-like drill.

Go to see him prepping. Stanley Cup playoffs are starting soon.

Putter shopping with Luke Donald

I should clarify that although he’s was seen looking at a number of putters on the practice green at Valspar, calling it shopping is a bit of a stretch.

More Odyssey 2-Balls in action

One of the newest 2-ball converts on tour is no other than the personification of a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man, Chesson Hadley. The 6’4″ Hadley is currently ranked third in strokes gained putting on tour—so, whatever he is doing is clearly working.

Family Guy on FOX - This short but handsome, slightly hairy, newly...

 Vegas has upgraded

Equipment free agent Jhonattan Vegas certainly has a type when it comes to his irons and wedges. At this time last year, he was using Mizuno’s MP-4 irons and Vokey wedges, and this week the Venezuelan is using the new JPX-921 Tours, Vokey wedges, and what looks to be a Titleist TSi3 driver.

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