Pebble Beach, United States: Brooks Koepka likes playing with a chip on his shoulder, and he’s feeling the comforting weight of one as he seeks a historic third straight US Open title at Pebble Beach.
“You’ve always got to find something to give you a little bit of extra motivation,” Koepka said on Tuesday as he prepared for Thursday’s start of the US Open.
Coming off a second straight PGA Championship triumph at Bethpage Black — his fourth major victory — the 29-year-old world number one found an extra edge in learning that one of broadcaster Fox’s US Open promos didn’t mention him.
“We’re amazed that I wasn’t in it,” said Koepka, who was alerted to the omission by social media posts and took a look for himself. “Just kind of shocked. They’ve had over a year to put it out. So I don’t know. Somebody probably got fired over it... or should.”
For Koepka, who can become just the second player, and first in more than a century, to win three straight US Open titles, it’s just fuel to his competitive fire.
PGA Tour colleagues and friends like Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler may see the “light and fun” Koepka, as Spieth said on Tuesday.
But the Koepka stalking Pebble Beach this week will be the “stoic” Koepka.
“I think that’s his level of confidence that he has and his level of focus,” Spieth said. “It’s certainly something that we’re all striving to have.
“That mentality on the golf course seems to be coming from the confidence in every swing that he’s making, and he’s on.”
Koepka never lacked for confidence, even before his US Open triumph at Erin Hills in 2017.
With last year’s victory at Shinnecock Hills he further confirmed to himself that he could come up with the goods when it counted.
“Making all those putts for par on the backside,” he said of last year’s US Open victory, “I think those were just clutch putts.”
No time to reflect
He learned even more about himself at last month’s PGA Championship, where four straight bogeys on the back nine saw his seven-shot lead evaporate before he steadied himself for the win.
“It’s definitely a big advantage,” he said of the experience. “We all know in US Opens you could be four-over through four very easily... you get off to a tough start, and all of a sudden I’ve got to reset.
“And now I know how to do that under pressure. I know how to do that and really handle myself and kind of right the ship. I think that’s going to be important going forward.”
Going forward is all Koepka is thinking about right now. He hasn’t gone back and watched video of the final round at Bethpage — or of any of his major victories.
“I’ve never watched any of the rounds I’ve ever played,” he said. “I’m still I guess in the prime of my career right now. So there’s no point in reflecting. I’ll reflect when I’m done.” — AFP