Marana, Ariz. – This is the Brooks Koepka we're used to when the four-time major champion talks golf.
“I think my game is where it needs to be. I'm very happy.”
“I can't compete with these guys week in and week out.”
It was Thursday after Koepka's Pro-Am and before the start of LIV Tucson at the Gallery Golf Club.
The latter was from the Netflix documentary “Full Swing,” when a mentally fragile Koepka looked as vulnerable as ever since dominating the PGA Tour.
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And then it was when Koepka was asked how he would respond to those who watched that documentary and concluded that he joined a league funded by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, knowing that his game would never be a Like won't and believes he can't compete on the PGA Tour.
“I don't care. They can think whatever they want to think.”
Mentally, the man with laser-like focus and steely nerves, who spent 47 weeks at world No. 1, has regained his confidence as his health improves.
Physically, he is yet to play. In three events this year, Koepka finished 27th in a 48-man field at LIV's season opener in Mexico three weeks ago. He missed the cut and finished tied for 46th in two Asian Tour events.
The result means Koepka, a Palm Beach County native who now lives in Jupiter, has dropped out of the top 100 in the world golf rankings this week (102) for the first time in nine years, partly because of LIV ranking points for Not worthy but also gives an indication of how his game has been.
For Koepka, that shaky confidence was brought about by a long battle with injuries that at one point forced him to contemplate his future in the sport.
And Koepka decided he would channel those feelings and show that vulnerability and true feeling about his sport when the cameras rolled.
Koepka said on Wednesday, “Listen, I played the villain.” “I'm always honest about where I am and what I think is happening. Nothing's changed there. Just honest how I'm feeling.
“Golf featured a lot in my form. They quit because of injury a lot. Ask any athlete who's ever been injured. You lose a lot of confidence.”
He had his knee cap and damaged ligaments removed on Wednesday, the two-year anniversary of the surgery. The injury happened 10 days ago when he slipped with his family in Florida.
The result was that most of his knee cap was removed.
Koepka attempted to play the Masters less than a month later. He, predictably, missed the cut.
“The world doesn't know a quarter of what was going on or how bad it really was,” Koepka said. “Nobody has any idea. It's the first time the surgery has been done.
“The top part peeled off and they had to go down. They had to go in four different places. I have a small part of my knee left.”
This happened about a year and a half after Koepka underwent a stem cell procedure on his left knee after struggling with a partially torn patella tendon. That knee injury did not allow Koepka to properly shift his weight to his left side, which aggravated the hip injury.
A month after the stem cell procedure, Koepka was diagnosed with a torn labrum and re-injured his left knee when he slipped on wet concrete in the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in South Korea.
Koepka was unbeaten during his run of four majors, starting with the 2017 US Open, after that last major title at the 2019 PGA Championship.
Koepka spent most of 2021 unable to fully flex his right knee, which led him to land on his left leg and his right knee fully extended to read a putt. And it led to an uneventful two years with far fewer highlights — a Top 10 at the 2021 US Open, a T3 at the 2022 Phoenix Open, winning his first LIV event in October — than frustration — withdrawing from the 2021 Tour Championships, missing last The year ended with cuts in two majors and 55th in two others.
The knee remains swollen but Koepka says it looks the best it can.
“Last year was still nowhere near,” he said. “Right now I'm exactly where I want to be. I feel as good as ever. I'm able to do the things I was doing in 2019.”
“Strength is starting to come back where it should be. I don't wake up every day feeling it.”
Attitude is back. Will follow the game?
This article was originally published on the Palm Beach Post: Brooks Koepka to critics of move to LIV golf: ‘I don't care'