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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 ūüôā

  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‚Äôs 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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Equipment

American Express, Abu Dhabi Golf Championship Tour Truck Report: BK to Srixon? MCA has a ton of new shafts, Rickie goes graphite

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TaylorMade

Most of the big action for Team TaylorMade is taking place in Abu Dhabi with Rory and Tommy in the field. After extensive weeks of testing, this is what they have in the bag this week

Tommy Fleetwood WITB

Driver: TaylorMade SIM2 (10.5 degrees @8.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 70 TX (tipped 1 inch, 44.75 inches)

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Rocket 3 (13.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 70 TX (42.5 inches)

5-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (19 degrees @18.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 80 TX (41.25 inches)

Irons: TaylorMade P7TF (4-PW) 
Shafts: Project X Rifle 6.5

Wedges:¬†Callaway MD5 Jaws Raw (52-10S, [email protected], 60-08T)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue  S400

Putter: Odyssey White Hot Pro 3
Grip: SuperStroke Mid Slim 2.0

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord (D, 3W, 5W, 7W, and wedges), Iomic Sticky @12:30 (irons)

Ball:¬†TaylorMade TP5x ’21 Proto

Rory McIlroy WITB

Driver: TaylorMade SIM2 (10.5 degrees @8.5)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (45.5 inches, 59.25 lie, D4)

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (15 degrees @13.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 80 TX (43.25 inches, 58 lie, D4)

5-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (19 degrees @ 18.25)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 90 TX

Irons: TaylorMade P7MB (4-PW)
Shaft: Project X Rifle 7.0 (6.5 in PW)

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (52-09SB, 56-12SB, 60-08LB)
Shaft: Project X Rifle 6.5

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Copper (34.25 inches, 2.5 loft, 70 lie)

Ball: 2021 TaylorMade TP5x (#22)

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord (58R 1+1, logo down)

Matthew Wolff WITB

Driver: TaylorMade SIM2 Max (10.5 degrees @9)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD TP 7 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Titanium (15 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD XC 8 X

Irons: TaylorMade P7MC (3-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (50-09SB, 56-12SB, 60-09LB)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Grips: Golf Pride ZGrip Cord (+3 double-sided tape)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Proto (33 inches, lie at 70, 3.5 loft, D4)
Grip: TaylorMade Red/Black

Ball: TaylorMade TP5 ’21 PIX

Other TM news 

Doc Redman put the new Aldila Ascent Red 70 TX in his SIM2 (60 TX pictured below).

Sepp Straka put the new MCA Kaili White 60 TX in his SIM2.

Titleist

The Fujikura Ventus Red trend continues with Russell Henley moving from his KBS TD to Ventus Red 7 X in a TSi4.

Tyler Duncan was testing a custom K Grind lob wedge. He was inspired by Kevin Na’s win and looking at Aaron Dill’s pics on IG. Can you blame him?

Justin Thomas (Abu Dhabi) moved out of Ventus Red 6 TX (tipped 1 inch) in his TSi3 (9 degrees) into a Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 6 X. According to my source, JT was looking for a specific feel with the driver and also one that dialed in the launch windows on a little cutter he has been working on. We will keep you updated if it sticks or if any of the info changes.

Callaway

Akshay Bhatia put the new Apex Utility Prototype in play with a KBS Tour Hybrid Prototype 105 X shaft. Shay also put the new Epic Max LS driver (9 degrees @8.5) with a Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green “Hulk” 75G 6.5 TX.

Kevin Na tested Callaway’s Epic Max LS (9 degrees) with a Graphite Design Tour AD GP 6 X. No need to panic, that original Epic gamer ain’t goin’ anywhere till it keels over and dies.

Phil Mickelson was spotted testing a Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X shaft in a Mavrik Sub Zero. Not confirmed if it will indeed go in play.

Ping

Scott Stallings (non-staff) put a Ping G425 LST (10.5 degrees @11) driver in play with an MCA Kaili White 60 TX (tipped 1 inch @45.25).

Abraham Ancer (non-staff) also converted to the Ping G425 LST (9 degrees @7.75) with an MCA Tensei AV Raw Blue 65 TX (tipped 1 inch @45).

Cameron Champ lost his clubs en route to Palm Desert and the Ping Tour squad had to build a brand new set of sticks from scratch, top to bottom. Thankfully the gamers showed up and Cam was left with a fresh new backup set.

Srixon

Rumor has it that former world No. 1 Brooks Koepka has inked a deal with Cleveland/Srixon to play its Z-Star XV ball, ZX7 irons and Cleveland Zip Core Wedges. Koepka showed up to Palm Desert with a new set of irons with Tour Issue X100 shafts, a Srixon utility, and his trusty Nike Vapor Pro 3-iron and TaylorMade M5 driver with an MCA Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX shaft. We will continue to update to confirm or deny the rumors. Awesome news for Srixon and BK if true.

Cobra

Rickie Fowler made some significant changes to his bag coming into Palm Desert. The Cobra staffer put the REV33 MB’s back in the bag this time with a fresh set of Mitsubishi Chemical MMT 125 TX graphite shafts. Fowler, who has tested quite a few different shafts over the years, going from KBS C-Taper S+ to Tour Issue X100, loved the integrity of the MMT’s.

In testing, they tried a set that was soft stepped as well as the current set that is straight in. The overall takeaway was integrity on mis-hits and hitting a very specific flight window all while keeping spin the same. Fowler also had the new Cobra RadSpeed Driver in the bag with a Mitsubishi Tensei Orange 60 TX shaft.

Jason Dufner put the new Aldila Tour Concept 60 TX in his Rad Speed Driver (70 TX pictured below).

Free Agents

Scottie Scheffler finally swapped out his TaylorMade P730’s for a brand new set of P7TW’s (5-PW). Like his older set, they come fully loaded with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts. Scottie did keep his Srixon Utility 3-iron and Z785 4-iron in the bag, however.

Newly minted free agent Ryan Moore showed up to the Desert with a bag only a true gear junkie could love. The six-company bag featured a TaylorMade SIM Driver, TSi2 3-wood, Srixon hybrids, Mizuno MP-18 irons, and Cleveland Zip Core wedges.

Paul Casey put the Titleist TSi3 driver in the bag with a Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX shaft.

KBS seeded out a new Proto graphite shaft. The yet-to-be-named new edition to the TD line has a higher modulus material on the bottom third to increase stability and lower torque. The feedback with the original TD from players with fast speeds: it needed to be stiffer. This ‚Äúnewer version,‚ÄĚ which will probably only come in the category 4 and 5, is very firm.

Patrick Reed went back to his Ping G400 LST driver‚ÄĒthat’s all on that.

 

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2021 American Express

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GolfWRX is live at The 2020 American Express as the tour returns to the mainland United States following its Hawaii Swing.

Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Patrick Cantlay, and of course the tournament’s host, Phil Mickelson, will all tee it up in La Quinta, California, this week.

We have an abundance of special galleries as new gear floods the tour as players return to the continental U.S. for the first time in 2021, as well as general galleries for your perusal.

Special galleries

General galleries

See what GolfWRXers are saying in the forums. 

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News

New troops: PXG announces additions to tour staff for 2021

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Earlier this week, it was the Brooklyn Nets making big news in the NBA with player acquisitions. Now in the golf world, it’s PXG, who is also adding to its roster with a number of new players on both the PGA Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour.

The newest members of the PXG roster, which they like to call “troops” are

  • Jim Herman
  • Sung Kang
  • Danny Lee
  • Luke List
  • Henrik Norlander
  • Adam Schenk
  • Kyle Stanley
  • Hudson Swafford

Speaking to the switch, Sung Kang said

“PXG makes some of the best performing equipment in golf. I know, with the support of Bob Parsons, his team, and PXG clubs, that I am going to be able to take my game to the next level!”

The professionals from the Korn Ferry Tour joining current PXG staffers Scott Langley and Grant Hirschman include

  • Kevin Dougherty
  • Nicolas Echavarria
  • KK Limbhaust
  • Justin Lower
  • Seth Reeves
  • Charlie Saxon

“Between grit and their love of the game, every one of these new players brings something special to the course. We are proud to welcome them all to the PXG Troops and honored that they have chosen to put PXG in play.”¬†-PXG founder and CEO Bob Parsons.

These players join a long list of PXG staff players, which also includes LPGA Tour players Lydia Ko, Katherine Kirk, Austin Ernst, Christia Kim, Brittany Lang, Haley Moore, Celine Boutie, Ryann O’Toole, Gerina Piller, Jennifer Song, Linnea Str√∂m, and Mina Harigae.

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