Koepka healthy, eager to defend title at Shinnecock
Defending champion Brooks Koepka may not be the main attraction at the U.S. Open, but he is eyeing another win.
Koepka tees off alongside Jason Day and Bubba Watson at Shinnecock Hills on Thursday to begin his title defence.
But Koepka is not in Southampton, New York, to play second, third or any other fiddle.
"The only reason I'm here is to win. If it wasn't for that I wouldn't have signed up," Koepka said during his Tuesday news conference. "I feel like I always play well at the U.S. Open. Major championships are where I shine."
Starting with the 2015 Open Championship, Koepka has finished 13th or better in eight of the nine major tournaments in which he has competed, including his first major win at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills.
Since lifting that trophy a year ago by tying the tournament record at 16 under, Koepka has endured some frustrating times. A partially torn tendon in his left wrist brought his streak of eight consecutive top-20 finishes to a screeching halt as he missed four months (including the Masters) to start the 2018 season.
"You go from playing some of the best golf I've ever played to probably being at the lowest point professionally that I've been," Koepka said before describing the toll inactivity took on his body. "The lowest point was the fact I gained about 15 pounds. Looking in the mirror wasn't quite fun."
Koepka ultimately recovered quicker than anticipated and he claims to be "100 per cent" past the injury. There is no basis for argument as his play suggests he is back to top shape ahead of his U.S. Open defence. A tied for 11th finish at The Players Championship last month was followed by a second-placed finish and three rounds of 67 or better at the Forth Worth Invitational.
Koepka, currently ninth in the rankings, fielded common questions about Shinnecock on Thursday and likened the course to Erin Hills. However, his success this weekend may not hinge on the width of the fairways or firmness of the greens, but on the lesson he learned en route to winning this tournament last year.
"The one thing I learned is patience. Be there with nine to play," he said.