Brooks Copka’s humility in PGA Championship

Golf was one of the final trash talk-free zones in American sports until Brooks Koepka made his way to the first tee. He was never going to be Connor McGregor, but due to his superhero arms and unwavering trust in himself, Koepka occasionally said things that would make a pay-per-view promoter feel proud.

Like on Saturday night, when Koepka was asked how he felt about starting the final round of the PGA Championship, chasing his friend Dustin Johnson, a year later Johnson ran him down to Bethpage. A two-time winner of this event and a four-time lead winner, Koepka decided it was time to show Johnson the trophy case.

“I mean, I like my chances,” Kopka said. “When I was previously in this position, I have invested capital. I don’t know, he only won one.”

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Hey, most of us bought what Koepka was selling at TPC-Harding Park in San Francisco. He had an established history of running the talk, making it easy to imagine his two-shot deficit as half a dozen holes were erased in that round.

But a strange thing happened along the way to making history as the first three Pete winners of any major championships with Kopeka in more than six decades. He played in all of his Saturday’s news conference like more than one hit wonder (except Johnson). One day when 23-year-old winner Coleen Morikawa scored 64 and emerged from a seven-way tie for a back-nine lead, Koepka scored a 4-over 74, beating a player (Jim Manman). ) Out of 78 he was coping.

One of 78, after doing an unnecessary dig at the former US Open champion, who deserved better.

Rory McElroy, perhaps the tour’s most thoughtful player, said he was removed from commentary, and Koepka should have at least raised his goals more carefully. “A man must work hard to score 21 wins on the PGA Tour,” McElroy said of Johnson, “who is three times Brooks.”

Rory’s memorabilia may have been the best iron shot on the day of the epidemic that gave a brand of golf that would have inspired fans to roar all the time they were allowed on the course. Who could possibly believe that seven players would be tied deep in round 10, none of them named Brooks Kopeka?

But enough so that golfers above and below the leaderboards were busy shooting in the mid-60s, the presumed favorite seemed like one of the regular 16 handicaps at this city-owned course. Playing with Paul Casey, who would shoot 66 and end in a tie for second with Johnson, Kopeka admitted he fell short of an unabated after closing the front nine with three consecutive bogeys. Was.

“I went there just to please Paul,” he said.

Built for NFL contact, Koepka became an incredible shrinking man. CBS cameras stopped showing him altogether, the final outrage for a contender who had called another man.

“Every time I hit it in some form today,” Koepka said, “I’ve got probably the worst lie I’ve done all week. … Hey, didn’t mean to do that. Three in a row, You’re done. Supposed to actually do two in a row to see history, but that’s all right. Got two more [majors] The rest of the season and we’ll find out. ”

On any other Sunday faint, Koepka would have had the benefit of the doubt. He struggled with a knee injury before nearly winning it in Memphis, Tennessee last week. This PGA Championship could be a throwback for him, a bridge to full health and, perhaps, pushing his chance at a fifth major win at the September US Open or November’s Masters.

But he said what he said on Saturday and failing to honor his words should have consequences. Not that this would be the last time Kopeka would speak more like a mixed martial arts fighter than a golfer. The man who claimed the Major is easier to win than the minors, as so many players on the field do not have their skills and pressure, they have a long history of showing the way from tee to green.

Koepka prides itself on being the first athlete to be a prototype golf nerd and an eccentric force on the tour. “I’m not close with any of the people outside here,” he told Golfweek during an interview recently in which he said his alleged friendship with Johnson had been “blown out of proportion.”

Koepka has denied reports that he had a feud with Johnson after the 2018 Ryder Cup, but there is no dispute over the fact that he was once a roommate and worked together in a gym in Jupiter, Florida Used to do Johnson was once a major player. Maybe after beating Johnson two in Long Island, New York, at Shinkok in 2018 and at Bethpage in 2019 – Koepka felt he could flex his muscles at Harding Park and play his friend / frenemy (former friend ) To remind that it will be moving over overshadowing.

On Sunday, Koepka tried his luck when Johnson 68 was not enough to claim his second major title. But it wasn’t as much about Johnson as it was about the man who shot 74, the guy who was completely washed out on his final hole while he finished his sixth bogey.

Brooks Copka was ultimately deen. And that was the biggest day ever.


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