As Brooks Koepka goes for a third consecutive US PGA Championship, caddie Ricky Elliott, the man hoping to help his boss to more Major glory at TPC Harding Park, shares the secrets to their success.
How has your relationship evolved since you started working for Brooks Koepka at the 2013 US PGA Championship?
It’s obviously evolved with results, but he’s just the same chap. We have a lot of fun. He’s not a very demanding guy on or off the golf course.
My job is to keep things light. I haven’t changed what I do from six years ago and I don’t think he has either. He might have changed his body a little bit and worked out a little more, but apart from that we both get out there and I’ll do my homework and he’ll practise away.
Relationship-wise off the course, we get on well together, go on a few trips together. He’s like a little brother to me at times.
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What do you think is Brooks' biggest strength?
He doesn’t think he has it all. He’s not a know it all. He doesn’t talk down to me and say, ‘well I’m the best player in the world, now you can listen to me.’ He listens to everybody for advice, and then he’ll have his own take on it.
He’s had the same manager, coaches, and same caddie for the last six years. We’re the guys who have worked for him since he was number 200 in the world, and he’s still the same guy.
How much does Brooks rely on you for yardages?
He doesn’t carry a yardage book, but his golfing IQ is massive. He’s got the club out before I give him the yardage, and very rarely does he put the club back in. He just eyeballs it a lot. He always wants to know the yardage and where the wind is. I get all the numbers and do all the book work. I guess he trusts me with all of that.
We always try to keep stuff as basic as possible and try not to complicate things. He makes a quick decision once we get to the ball. I guess that’s why he’s a fast player because we just try to shoot and run.
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What were your thoughts on the ESPN ‘body shoot’?
I knew that they had done it, obviously. We had a laugh about it that day, and I think he was a bit embarrassed. I don’t think he particularly enjoyed doing it.
I think it’s a bit of an honour to do it so he thought it would be good for golf to show that we’re not all beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking athletes anymore.
I thought it was ballsy for him to do it honestly. I’m pretty proud of him.
What do you put his incredible consistency in Majors down to?
It’s probably a bit of good timing and good fortune. At regular events I think there is the sense that he’s the overwhelming favourite because he’s the best in the world. Whereas the Majors are played at tougher courses, with a lot more players there, and maybe you play safer than you do in the Tour events.
Maybe we play too aggressive in those. But from a perspective of trying to win, he’s trying every bit as hard.
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Does his mindset change for a Major versus a regular PGA Tour event?
I feel like it’s no different than regular events. I honestly think he might try harder in regular events than he does in Majors. It’s the complete opposite of what people think.
Obviously his Major record is unbelievable and his other record isn’t, but he ain’t messing around at regular events. His preparation is every bit the same.
How do you reflect on his performances in the Majors last year?
At the Masters and The Open, he didn’t putt well all week. Tee to green he was amazing. It just came down to missing a few clutch putts. But Brooks said he couldn’t play any better than that.
Apart from that one tee shot on 12 (at the Masters) that he would have loved to have had back, he didn’t hit a bad shot in the last round. At the end of the day he was content. He doesn’t think he lost the Masters, The Open or the US Open.
I think he feels he did everything he could and there was just a better guy who beat him.