Brooks Koepka dominates when the stakes are highest

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Once again, Brooks Koepka turns on the gas for a major.

Once again, Brooks Koepka turns on the gas for a major.
Image: Getty Images

Brooks Koepka is really good at golf, and he’s really good at golf on the biggest stages. Since the 2017 Masters, he has played in 14 major championships. In those 14 appearances, he has won four, finished second twice, and placed in the top-10 in three more. Half of his 14 Majors appearances have been a top-10 finish or better.

Earlier today, in the first round of the U.S. Open, Koepka was two under par. At that time:

That’s 61 shots better than the next closest golfer. That is an absurd amount of dominance. Something about the big stage just suits him.

Over the past four years, the U.S. Open has belonged to this man. He’s playing in his eighth. He’s made six cuts. He has four top-5 finishes, including back-to-back victories in 2017 and 2018, and finished second in 2019.

The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine that Koepka puts on between his Majors appearances and non-major appearances is shocking.

“I think sometimes the majors are the easiest ones to win,” Koepka told reporters ahead of the 2019 PGA Championship.

“There’s 156 [players] in the field, so you figure at least 80 of them I’m just going to beat. You figure about half of them won’t play well from there, so you’re down to about maybe 35. And then from 35, some of them just – pressure is going to get to them. It only leaves you with a few more, and you’ve just got to beat those guys.”

Outside of Majors Championships, however, he’s much more Clark Kent than Superman. In what could be considered a tune-up for the U.S. Open, Koepka missed the cut at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree last weekend. Before that, on May 23, Koepka finished tied for second at the PGA Championship (a Major). The tournament before that, the AT&T Byron Nelson on May 16, he missed the cut again. It’s a consistently inconsistent affair with Koepka.

But, when he’s on, he’s terrifying for the rest of the field. On the 8th hole today, Koepka missed the fairway badly, landed his next shot in some nasty grass on the edge of a bunker, chipped it out with essentially a horizontal baseball swing, and then saved par. As is seemingly always the case, he’s right in the thick of things. He finished his first round at two under par and two strokes off the lead.

If they ever create a world ranking based only on Majors, Koepka would be the reason why, and would be the world No. 1.

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