Brooks Koepka: Major Theory and ‘Choking’ at the Masters

Brooks Koepka, 2023 PGA Championship, Oak Hill,(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Brooks Koepka, 2023 PGA Championship, Oak Hill,(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Once upon a time long ago in golf, which is usually a year or two or three, Brooks Koepka said majors were not the hardest to win because so many people talked themselves out of having a chance. It was in May of 2019 when he said – paraphrasing — if you start with 156 players at least 80 of them, he knew he could beat.

“You figure about half of them won’t play well from there, so you’re down to about maybe 35,” he said at the time. “And then from 35, some of them just – pressure is going to get to them.”

Koepka believed it was easier to win bigger tournaments because so many people took themselves out of it before the tournament started.

Brooks Koepka hasn’t changed his mind.

"“If you have a lead and cough it up, that’s choking.” – Brooks Koepka."

“When you look at the major leaderboards over the last, I don’t know, maybe five, six years, I mean, it’s pretty repetitive on the guys who are at the top,” he said in his pre-tournament press conference at the PGA Championship. “I think it’s still the same.”

As far as Koepka and how he feels this week, his body is healthy, and he says he feels good. His swing is where he wants it to be. He’s moving the way he wants to.

"“Then from there it’s just about game-planning and going out and executing,” he noted. “Yeah, I feel 100%, so there’s no reason why — right? I’m 33 now, and I think, what, your prime in golf is from when you are about from 30 to 40. I haven’t quite hit the middle of it. But I feel pretty good.”"

Brooks Koepka does like Oak Hill because he likes older-style golf courses. He called it a mixture of the PGA and the U.S. Open, and he’s not wrong about that since the course has hosted both championships. He’s won two of each of those, so maybe he’s getting trophy hungry again.

Like everyone else, he cited the importance of hitting the fairways at Oak Hill.

Interestingly, he was asked what he was thinking after he came so close to winning the Masters earlier this season. His feelings of disappointment were obvious from his description of post-round thoughts.

"“I didn’t sleep Sunday night just trying to figure out what exactly it was. Thought about it for a few days after and really honed in on what I was doing and what went wrong.”"

However, he was not willing to share his analysis. He did say that once he came to his conclusion on what he should have done to secure a victory, the idea is to never make the same mistakes again. Of course, it’s golf, and mistakes happen, often at the worst possible moment.

“It sucks to finish second, but at the same time, as long as you learn from it, you’ll be fine,” he added.

He even admitted that he would consider it choking.

"“If you have a lead and cough it up, that’s choking,” he said. “I’ve been in the lead, that position a couple of times and haven’t capitalized. I can’t do it every single time. I’m not perfect.”"

Brooks Koepka is bundles of fun because he says the things other people are thinking half the time but won’t say. That’s one of the things that makes him an interesting personality, never mind his amazing prowess as a golfer.

While it’s been difficult to follow him on LIV, just as it is with the rest of those who made the jump, in Koepka’s case, it is good to see that he hasn’t changed. He’s still the same confident and outspoken player he always was.

Does Koepka have a chance this week?

In an interview for The Golf Show 2.0 with former PGA Tour player Terry Diehl, who was a member at Oak Hill Golf Club for many years when he lived in Rochester, Diehl picked Koepka to win.

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There was no waffling in his choice, either. Even though Brooks Koepka has not been on the PGA Tour for more than a year, people who really know the sport believe he can win another PGA Championship.

( At about 31 minutes into the program Diehl discusses his pick.)