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Brooks Koepka shoots 72 during opening round at 2023 PGA Championship

Brooks Koepka shoots 72 during opening round at 2023 PGA Championship

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Brooks Koepka figured he’d get ahead of the hosts on a recent podcast so he just said what he figured they were thinking.

“I choked,” the Jupiter resident said about losing a four-shot lead with 30 holes to play at the Masters.

He was asked this week whether he truly believes that’s the best way to characterize his disappointing Sunday at Augusta.

“Theoretically, yes, it is,” he said. “It is choking, right? If you have a lead and cough it up, that’s choking.”

Then how did Koepka characterize his 2-over 72 Thursday in the opening round of the PGA Championship?

“That was the worst I hit it in a really long time,” said Koepka, who headed to the range at Oak Hill Country Club after hitting just six greens and seven fairways.

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If Koepka truly does have his majors mojo back, as many believe, then he has some work to do during Friday’s second round.

Koepka certainly is not out of it after 18 holes, especially on a course that many compared to among the toughest for a PGA Championship. Red numbers were hard to come by Thursday.

“Just going to work on it, figure it out. I doubt it’s going to happen tomorrow,” he said about another subpar performance. “Just go figure it out and see where it puts me.”

That’s the Koepka we remember from those days before his knee injury, the one full of confidence who has no doubt he can recover from one bad day or dominate when the stakes are the highest, as he did for a three-year stretch in which he won four majors.

Restless night after Masters loss for Koepka

Which is why that performance on the final day at the Masters resulted in a restless night and a few anxious days. Koepka said he didn’t sleep at all that Sunday night trying to figure out what went wrong and then thought more about what happened over the next few days.

“From there, just never let it happen again,” he said. “That’s the whole goal, right? You’re not trying to dwell on it. Yeah, it sucks to finish second, but at the same time, as long as you learn from it, you’ll be fine.”

Following the Masters, Koepka returned to his day job as a member of LIV Golf. He played just one tournament between the season’s first two majors, finishing fifth in LIV’s event in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

But the majors are the only events where Koepka truly is judged nowadays and he was hoping to carry the momentum of a runner-up finish at Augusta into the PGA Championship.

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