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Brooks Koepka has learned patience in a major championship can go a long way

By admin May18,2024

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Brooks Koepka does not describe himself as a patient man.

But after years of studying such colleagues as Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, he has learned that patience on a golf course, especially at a major championship, might be just as important as a hot putter.

“Just stay patient,” Koepka said Thursday after a 4-under 67 in the opening round of the PGA Championship. “That’s what majors are all about, I think. You can’t win it today, but you just try to hang around and give yourself a chance or in a good spot come Sunday.”

That patience paid off Thursday on Koepka’s final two holes.

Brooks Koepka tees off on the 12th hole during the first round of the 2024 PGA Championship golf tournament at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, May 14, 2024.Brooks Koepka tees off on the 12th hole during the first round of the 2024 PGA Championship golf tournament at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, May 14, 2024.

Brooks Koepka tees off on the 12th hole during the first round of the 2024 PGA Championship golf tournament at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, May 14, 2024.

Koepka, the five-time major champion from Jupiter who now plays in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league, was 1-under entering No. 7, his 16th hole. Koepka’s drive on the 590-yard fifth hole landed in the first cut, but because he would have been standing on a sprinkler head for his second shot, he was able to get free relief and a much better lie.

That second shot from 211 yards stopped 3 feet from the pin. He tapped in the eagle putt.

“Got kind of lucky,” he said.

OK, so patience and luck.

On No. 8, a par 3, Koepka rolled in a 37-foot birdie putt.

Those two holes are the difference between being eight or five shots behind Xander Schauffele, who shot a course record 62.

On the fifth hole, Koepka told caddie Ricky Elliott it would be nice if he could get to 3 or 4 under.

“Ricky kept me telling all day just stay patient, wait your turn, and I think that’s one of the things I’m exceptionally well at,” Koepka said. “Sometimes you’re in a round of golf, you’ve just got to wait your turn and catch that run like I did with an eagle-birdie.”

Koepka then was asked if he’s always been a patient person.

“Oh, God, no,” he said. “I’m not a patient person.”

The patience came from studying Johnson, McDowell and McIlroy early in his career.

What he learned was to not take risks in major tournaments.

“I was very impatient,” he said. “I couldn’t understand I’m trying to hit a 7-iron to 15 feet. It would drive me nuts. I just was striving for perfection.

“I think in regular events I take more pins on or maybe a little bit more aggressive off the tee hitting driver into a place maybe where I wouldn’t necessarily hit it here. I’ve just got to figure out where the miss is in a major.”

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Koepka admires the way Johnson is able to laugh off, and move on, from a bad shot.

“Getting to know DJ over the years, just kind of how he thinks and how he approaches things, I think that’s his biggest attribute … kind being able to, something bad happens, just kind of let it go,” Koepka said. “And if something good happens, you don’t want to get too high, too low, just kind of stay and ride the wave a little bit.”

So when does Koepka take risks at a major?

“On Sunday, if you’re four back with four to play or something like that, then you’ve got to take some risks,” he said.

“But pretty much for the first three days, I’m just trying to hit the center of the greens and get out of there. If you pull one, like I did on 7 and hit it close, it’s great.”

From a man who is one of 20 golfers with at least five major championships and during one stretch had 11 top 10s in 13 majors, who is going to challenge that strategy.

Tom D’Angelo is a senior sports columnist and golf writer for The Palm Beach Post. He can be reached at tdangelo@pbpost.com.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Brooks Koepka climbs leaderboard at PGA Championship with late eagle-birdie

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