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19th Hole

Coach reveals the major tally Brooks Koepka will achieve to put him amongst legends of game



Second at The Masters was no fluke.

Despite being the winner of four majors, there were plenty that doubted Brooks Koepka as he faced Jon Rahm in the final pairing at Augusta last month.

Things didn’t go to plan at all for the 33-year-old former world number one, and his fate was sealed when a two-shot overnight lead turned into a deficit. Three bogeys in his front nine, and three more coming home meant a final round four-shot defeat to the then world number one. Koepka looked frustrated not only at Patrick Cantlay’s slow play but also in his own game.

A month is a long time in golf, though, and Koepka left the memory of that mini-collapse well behind with a dominant display at Oak Hill, coming home two shots to the good over 2022 Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and playing partner Viktor Hovland.

His final three rounds of 66/66/67 could have been even better but for scraping the edge of a handful of holes over the weekend, but he is unlikely to complain as he joined just 19 other golfers as a five-time major winner.

Koepka is all about mental strength – just ask his coach.

Legendary golf tutor Pete Cowan told The Guardian that his charge will win a lot more silverware now he is fit and back believing in himself.

“He will win a lot more,” said Cowan. “I certainly think he will go another four and he would obviously like a grand slam. Look at how many times he has been second or just missed out already. I thought he was an unbelievable player in 2018-2019 and he has got stronger.”

Should he get to nine, that would put Brooks alongside Ben Hogan and Gary Player.

Cowan dismisses any poor attitude on Koepka’s part, saying that injury affected him badly after the peak seasons of 2018 and 2019.

“I believed he could come back because he has always been comfortable in uncomfortable situations,” explained Cowan. “He looks as though he is going to beat you now, when he is coming down the stretch.

“He is not frightened of working, that’s for sure, and he couldn’t work when he was injured.”

Many believe that Koepka made the move to LIV Golf because he simply couldn’t see the day when he could be as good as he once was, but having now recorded the best major record of any player so far in 2023, he looks a certainty to make the Ryder Cup in September.

Whether he gets there via automatic selection or via a pick from captain Zach Johnson, Cowan believes both he and Dustin Johnson will tee it up at the Marco Simone.

“He would love to play in the Ryder Cup,” Cowen said. “I know Brooks and Dustin Johnson would love to play. I have spoken to them about it.” The caveat that, “I don’t think Jay would like him to play,” seems to mean little at the moment, with the golfing world generally ignoring politics to celebrate the return to form by one of its best.

Koepka is aware of the history of being the first LIV golfer to win a major, but says,

“Yeah, it’s a huge thing, but at the same time, I’m out here competing as an individual at the PGA Championship.”

Cowan seemed to have no doubts that his pupil had it in him. As they walked and talked at the pitching and putting ranges on Sunday, Koepka “was complaining about swinging poorly.” In reply, Cowan confirmed, “Your 70% will still win.”

It’s not all been sweetness and blowing air.

“I sat him down after watching him play all four rounds at the 2017 St Jude Classic,” the 72-year-old Yorkshireman said.

“I gave him a real talking to, said to him: ‘With that attitude, you’ll win nothing. Your talent is there, but your attitude is appalling. You have to have the attitude of a champion if you are going to be a champion.’

After Koepka’s first major victory, a four-shot win at Erin Hills at the 2017 US Open, he gave his man a commemorative signed flag.

“On the flag it says: ‘Thanks for the bollocking. I couldn’t have done it without you.’ He can take that from me. He doesn’t want a ‘yes’ man or his ego stroked.”

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19th Hole

The 2023 PIP results are in…and one PGA Tour pro is not happy



The PGA Tour’s 2023 Player Impact Program results have been published, and there is a new man on top taking home the $15 million first prize.

On Wednesday evening, PGA Tour pro Nate Lashley took to Instagram to share a memo sent to players by executive vice president and chief player officer Jason Gore.

The memo shows that Rory McIlroy is this year’s big winner, taking the top spot and pushing last year’s victor, Tiger Woods, down to second place.

Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Scottie Scheffler make up the rest of the top five, with all three pocketing over $5 million from the program.


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A post shared by Nathan Lashley (@nlashley001)

While posting the image of the memo, Lashley sounded off on social media, declaring that the world’s top player’s receiving the big bonuses is “an absolute kick in the face to the rest of the PGA Tour players.”

The 2024 program will see $50 million paid to the top 10 players, as opposed to this year’s $100 million to the top 20 players.

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19th Hole

Phil Mickelson slams ‘pathetic human’ Alan Shipnuck over journalist’s shock claim involving Jon Rahm



On Wednesday, rumors of PGA Tour superstar Jon Rahm joining LIV Golf once again resurfaced.

The rumors stemmed from a Spanish speaking podcast called “Ten Golf” who indicated that talk of Rahm joining LIV was rampant at last week’s DP World Tour Championship.

Rahm has long been discussed as a potential fit for LIV due to his relationship with Sergio Garcia and his desire to play global golf.

The afternoon saw X ablaze with speculation, and Alan Shipnuck, who’s the author of “LIV and Let Die”, shared that he’d been told Phil Mickelson was telling people that Rahm to LIV was a “done deal”.

“In recent days Phil has been telling folks that Rahm signing with LIV is a done deal. (They share the same agent.) But we all know Mickelson is a relentless salesman/bullshit artist, so take that for what it’s worth.”

It would make sense that Mickelson might be in the loop regarding Rahm’s future. Phil’s brother Tim used to be Rahm’s coach at Arizona State University and was also his agent early in his career.

However, Phil responded to a tweet from Nuclr Golf saying that Shipnuck is the “worst liar” and a “pathetic human.”

“This isn’t true and I don’t know anything. I don’t want to know anything and I haven’t said anything. Alan is the worst liar and a pathetic human.”

Shipnuck posted a response, although it wasn’t directly in reply to Mickelson because he’s “blocked” by the six-time major champion.

Despite the fact that both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf have entered a brief off-season, the drama doesn’t show any signs of taking time off.

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19th Hole

The reason behind Azinger’s NBC exit as his replacement for Hero World Challenge is revealed



Over the weekend, it was announced that NBC has not renewed the contract for lead golf analyst, Paul Azinger.

“With the golf and media landscapes now in a more challenging environment, Azinger and NBC will part ways as their current contract ends,” said Azinger’s agent Rich Braund in a statement.

Sports Illustrated learned that the negotiations reportedly fell apart between Azinger and NBC when the one-year extension Azinger received was for less than he was making previously.

NBC also released a statement about Azinger.

“We want to thank Paul for his work with us over the last five years. His insights, work ethic and relationships in the golf industry are well known, and we appreciate what he brought to our team. We wish Paul the best in his future endeavors.”

On Monday, Sports Illustrated shared that Azinger will be replaced at next week’s Hero World Challenge by Curt Byrum. Byrum is a former PGA Tour player and has been an analyst for the Golf Channel since 2001.

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