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Brooks Koepka a ‘contract killer’ who could repeat at PGA Championship

Brooks Koepka a ‘contract killer’ who could repeat at PGA Championship

LOUISVILLE – ESPN golf analyst Andy North has seen enough of Brooks Koepka and the clinical way that he has won five major championships in the last six years to deliver this assessment.

“He’s a contract killer, simply,” he said during a pre-PGA Championship media call on Friday. “He shows up to a major championship, opens his locker and there’s like the ‘Mission Impossible’ thing: ‘Here’s your assignment, go kill somebody this week.’ That’s how he approaches golf at major championships. I love it.”

One year ago, Koepka, 34, completed a remarkable return to glory, shooting 3-under 67 at Oak Hill in the final round to win the PGA Championship by two strokes over Viktor Hovland and Scottie Scheffler. In doing so, Koepka became the 20th player to win at least five majors, and joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to win the Wanamaker Trophy three times in the stroke-play era.

But the narrative surrounding Koepka before his victory was a very different one. He was battling injuries, had taken the money and run to LIV Golf and was thought to be washed up. Moreover, despite winning both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship twice heading into last year’s PGA, Koepka had played small in some big spots – rinsing his tee shot at the 2019 Masters and finishing second to Tiger Woods, squandering a final-round lead to Phil Mickelson at the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah’s Ocean Course and blowing a 54-hole lead at the 2023 Masters by shooting a 74 and tying for second as Jon Rahm slipped into the Green Jacket.

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Three major failures in a row since his last triumph was more than a coincidence; it was a disconcerting pattern that gnawed at Koepka. ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt bumped into Koepka on the Monday of last year’s PGA at Oak Hill and said Koepka was still pissed about his Masters failure.

“He’s like, ‘I’m never going to do that again.’ I said, ‘Meaning what?’ ” Van Pelt recounted. “He felt like he got a little conservative and then Rahm got him, and when he tried to put his foot on the gas, there was nothing there. He didn’t have it.”

In Koepka’s words, he had “choked.” His swing coach, Claude Harmon III told him that this was simply the beginning of Brooks 2.0. “If this is the second phase of your career, it’s a helluva start,” Harmon said.

But Koepka took the defeat hard and said he didn’t sleep the night after the Masters….


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