Brooks Koepka 'shocked' after being missed off U.S Open Preview but he says he's 'ready to go' as he targets three-peat at Pebble Beach
If the world of golf has learned anything in the past two years, it's that a Brooks Koepka with a chip on his shoulder is one everyone should be worried about.
When Koepka felt like he was being slighted by the media for interviews and overlooked as a contender, he proved himself by winning the U.S. Open. Twice. Brandel Chamblee was was made to look silly when he said only DJ and Rory could challenge Tiger before the year's second major , and when Koepka's round started to fall apart at the PGA Championship this year and he heard the crowds chanting DJ at him? He used it to refocus himself and went on to win his fourth major.
So when he was asked about where the chip on his shoulder came from in his U.S. Open press conference, he explained in part he put it there, but that there were certain things he found mind-boggling that exacerbated the point.
One of those things was being left off a preview for this year's U.S Open, despite having won the tournament the past two years.
"I think a little -- a very little bit of it was me putting it on there," Koepka said. "But I think a lot of it just comes from certain things. You go back -- there's a commercial ran now where I'm not even in it, and FOX put it up for a preview of the U.S. Open. So I don't know. You guys tell me. I wasn't on Notables after winning. There's a couple of things where it's just mind boggling how -- it's like, really? Like, how do you forget that?"
When he was probed further about being left out of the advert on Fox Sports for this week's U.S. Open, you better believe the defending champion had some opinions. And we have no doubt he'll be using it as motivation this week.
"I actually didn't see it for a long time," Koepka said, although it is worth pointing out he is in three out of four of the promos. "A bunch of people on Twitter I think tagged me in it, in the promo. And I guess were amazed that I wasn't in it. I just clicked on the link and saw it and watched it. Just kind of shocked. They've had over a year to kind of put it out. So I don't know. Somebody probably got fired over it or should (laughter)."
The rest of the field already know what it means to have a fired up Koepka, as he became the first player in history to hold multiple U.S Open and PGA Championship titles at the same time, and likely won't be thanking Fox for their oversight.
Koepka has shown time and time again that he uses the mentality of 'they're against me' as motivation to win, and if there were ever a perfect example of it, it was at Bethpage last month. After an unwavering domination of the leaderboard for three rounds of the PGA, something unusual happened. Out of nowhere, with a six shot lead, Koepka bogeyed four holes in a row on the back nine, and saw his lead cut down to just one shot over Dustin Johnson.
He was in shock, but when the crowds started chanting 'DJ' at him around the 14th green, he didn't get overwhelmed. He used it to regain composure.
"When they started chanting, "DJ" on 14, it actually kind of helped, to be honest with you," Koepka said at the time. "I think it helped me kind of refocus and hit a good one down 15. I think that was probably the best thing that could have happened. It was very, very stressful, the last hour and a half of that round.
"It was at a perfect time because I was just thinking, okay, all right. I've got everybody against me. Let's go."
Heading in to this year's U.S. Open, Koepka said he now views that experience last month as an advantage over the field.
"I was kind of shocked and in awe for about an hour there, making four bogeys in a row. And didn't really know what was up at that point. And then having to recorrect things and kind of reset myself. It's definitely a big advantage.
"I mean, we all know in U.S. Opens you could be 4-over through four very easily. And you look at it like this week, you get off to a tough start, and all of a sudden I've got to reset.
"And now I know how to do that under pressure. I know how to do that and really handle myself and kind of right the ship. I think that's going to be important going forward. I was lucky enough to win it. But a U.S. Open is a different test. That's kind of why you play so well early on in the week. On Sunday you can let a few things happen. But I think it will definitely be a big advantage going forward."
But while he uses what he views as perception of him as motivation, what you won't hear from the World No.1 this week is any complaints about the course - something plenty of players have critcised the USGA for over the past few years.
"I mean, everybody has got to play the same golf course," Koepka said, admitting he personally finds it annoying that players have consistently complained about the U.S. Open set-ups. "So it really doesn't make a difference. It doesn't make a difference if you put it in the fairway and you hit every green, there's really no problem, is there?
"So obviously they're not doing what they're supposed to do. So they're not playing good enough. If they put it in the fairway, you shouldn't have to complain about the rough. You hit the greens and you hit it close, you shouldn't have to complain about the greens.
"I've just been never one to complain, make excuses. It doesn't matter. Nobody wants to hear anybody's excuse. I find it annoying even when I play with guys and they're dropping clubs or throwing them or complaining, like telling me how bad the golf course is or how bad this is. I don't want to hear it. I don't care. It doesn't matter to me. It's just something we've all got to deal with. If you play good enough, you shouldn't have a problem."
One of the reasons he has no reason to complain, is that Koepka's performances in majors have been outstanding over the past few years. With back-to-back U.S. Open and PGA Championships, and a runner-up at this year's Masters, Koepka has proven his ability to raise his game.
And for him, it's about keeping to a strict schedule on major weeks.
"It's just something that's worked," he explained. "It's not anything out of the ordinary I do. I just keep it very, very strict on major weeks. It's something I've done ever since I've gotten to major championships. I've got the same crew and the same house. Got the chef there. Got my agent, Claude, Jena, me, and that's it. It's the same people.
"We just kind of go into our own little bubble, I guess, is a good way to put it. And don't really -- don't worry about much what's going on on the golf course. We kind of get away from golf when we're at home. And I think it makes it a little -- not as stressful during the weeks as a place to kind of get away. I'm not discussing my rounds when I'm back. I'll talk about what goes on on the golf course out here, but I keep the golf at the golf course; and when I go home, it's something to kind of put my feet up and relax. And I think that's helped me through the years to really -- because like I said, these are super stressful weeks. And to find some place of relaxation is important."
As for how he feels heading in to this week?
"I'm ready to go," said Koepka. "There's a lot on the line. Going for three in a row. That's very exciting. And I want to play well. This would be the coolest thing, to win three in a row and to win a third one at Pebble, I think that's really -- it's such a special place. And to be as a little kid you always wanted to play a U.S. Open at Pebble.
"It's kind of a dream come true, in a sense. And to even be thought of or to think of winning a major championship here would be incredible."