Brooks Koepka will be at Bethpage Black next week, defending his 2018 PGA Championship title, but the man who’s been the PGA Tour’s best big trophy hunter the past few years will tune up his game this week in Dallas, at Trinity Forest Golf Club.
And the decision to play the week prior to a major wasn’t a hard one for Koepka, as he’s teed it up prior to his three major victories.
“I mean usually play the week before a major. I think the Augusta is the only one I don’t do it. The rest of them I like to play the week before,” said Koepka, on Tuesday at a press conference ahead of the AT&T Byron Nelson.
“You don’t need to play that great. I try to get some rhythm. At St. Jude I finished 30th and Firestone 5th one the week after. I like building a little bit of rhythm, finding your game, figuring out how to score, to manage your game and it’s just something — it’s worked for me.
“I think we’ve looked at stats and usually my second week out is my best week. So, trying to make those for the majors.”
Koepka is an enormous favorite (6-1), which should be expected since at World No. 3 he is the highest-ranked player in the field, by far.
The next three highest ranked are No. 19 Patrick Reed – who has been awful in 2019, No. 22 March Leishman (T58, T49, MC, T23, and T62 in his last five stroke-play starts), along with No. 29 Hideki Matsuyama.
In Koepka’s last individual event, he finished runner-up at The Masters, and was the last player effectively eliminated from the title before Tiger Woods snagged his fifth career green jacket, although the Florida State product said it wasn’t as close as it seemed.
“I thought I played reasonably well. I thought I played — I was pretty happy with how I played. Obviously I made a lot of mistakes. I made two doubles. It’s tough to win if you’re going to do that, especially at Augusta,” said Koepka, who will be paired with defending champ Aaron Wise, and Texan Ryan Palmer in the opening two rounds.
“Second place isn’t much fun but you move on. I think Tiger made it look closer than it actually was with the final score.
“All he had to do was bogey the last hole and I’m sure once I missed the putt on 18, you know, that was his thought process, ‘how can I make it’ from the places that he hit it with the chip he left himself was — that’s what he was going to make, he was going to make 5.
“If he’s making 4, great. He took 6 out of play. That’s exactly what he should have done.
“You know, I missed a couple putts coming in on 17 and 18, just kind of misreads but it happens. Hey, 2nd place you’re going to play good but not great. You’re not going to win. It’s simple as that, especially in a Major.”
His best finish in this event came three years ago at TPC Four Seasons, where he finished solo-second, losing a playoff to Sergio Garcia.