For Brooks Koepka, picking his favorite big win is like picking a favorite child.
Or at least, what he imagines the feeling to be like. The 32-year-old has no children of her own, but cherishes the four shiny trophies displayed in her home all the same.
The matching pairings of the US Open and PGA Championship Cup between 2017 and 2019 saw an unprecedented stretch that saw the first golfer in American history win titles at two different majors together. Before Koepka, no one had won their first four majors in two years.
That means he has eight PGA Tour wins to his name, half of which are major wins. For Koepka, it’s a ratio he’s satisfied with.
“Nothing feels the same, the majors are so different. It’s the pinnacle of our sport, it’s what you’re judged by,” Koepka told CNN.
“If you look at all the greats that have played the game, most people can’t tell you how many PGA Tour events or how many European Tour events this person won or that person won, but they know exactly how many majors you’ve won.”
“So, to me, that’s what you define.”
These are words that make for tough lessons for the host of supremely talented golfers who have never clinched, or are still chasing, a major win. With 11 runner-up finishes between them, Colin Montgomery, Lee Westwood and Rickie Fowler are just three lauded players for whom the majors have proved elusive despite a plethora of professional victories.
Koepka previously explained how majors are the easiest tournaments to win. It’s a characteristic clarity for which he makes no apologies. In fact, he sees it as strength.
“I’m pretty blunt, I don’t like beating around the bush. I just say it how it is, I’ve always been that way,” he said. “I know my monotony might come off as a bit of a pain in the butt for people, but that’s how I feel.
“I love it when athletes are confident or confident in themselves – I think that’s important. Everyone needs it, no matter the profession, no matter what you’re doing.
“If you think you’re the best, go ahead and say it and then back it up.”
And Koepka has certainly backed it up. The Floridian has finished in the top five in 12 of his 34 career major starts, including three runner-up finishes.
Only five times has he missed the cut, and two of those came in an exciting season last year.
Koepka’s current Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status of No. 85 is the lowest position he has held since 2014 – though with the caveat that his involvement in the LIV Golf Series, which is excluded from the OWGR weighting system, has adversely affected the rankings of players joining the Saudi-backed series. .
Injury problems have exacerbated a painful fall from the peak for the former world No.1. After tearing the patella tendon in his left knee in 2019, Koepka revealed this past October that he “dislocated and shattered” his right knee in 2021. The injury was so severe that the American wondered if his career was over.
His struggle to come to terms with his loss of form was revealed in Netflix’s new fly-on-the-wall golf documentary series “Full Swing,” where Koepka admitted his slump was the “worst” he’s ever experienced. did
“There was a lot of stuff… just in (my) personal life, gone. Bad times, man,” Koepka told CNN.
“Injuries, you look back on it and a lot of times you’re sitting there. There is so much pain, so much that you have to endure, just to make it better. It’s not always fun, it’s not always glamorous.”
Yet Koepka still carries fond memories of 2022, such as his marriage to Jenna Sims and a cathartic victory in the final individual event of the LIV Golf Invitational Series in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in October.
Along with brother Chase, he also secured wins in the respective team events. Koepka promised to buy his younger sibling a Lamborghini if he won, putting a dent in his $4 million individual winner’s earnings, but ultimately ensuring a happy ending to a disappointing campaign.
“To finally be able to have some happy times, some success with all the down stuff, it was very enjoyable … something I can really, really look back on,” Koepka said.
“I could feel the trend coming up, (in the middle of the year) – I was getting out of the funk and now I’m glad to be out of it.
“Hopefully put all that stuff behind me and stay healthy for a while, that’s the goal.”
Naturally, though, that’s not Koepka’s only goal for 2023. A self-confessed “slow starter,” he’s looking to get up to speed when the Masters roll in April.
Runner-up to Tiger Woods in 2019, a green jacket would put Koepka on track to be considered a “good” 2023.
“Hopefully a few wins, and then a big one – that’s the goal every year,” he said.