July 20, 2017: The 27-year-old American Brooks Koepka barely touched a club while on holiday in Las Vegas but it clearly did him no harm as he opened his fourth appearance at The Open with a five under par 65 highlighted by an eagle out of a greenside bunker on the par five 17th hole.
“That was a bonus,” he said. “It was in one of those rake marks. My caddie told me to get inside ten feet would be pretty good, but, luckily enough, it went in.”
The latest new major champion laughed off the suggestion that his lengthy break might have affected his performance.
“It’s something I’ve done for years,” he said. “It’s just a mental thing. I don’t think it’s anything else. If I start playing four or five weeks in a row, everything just seems to get nonchalant, I guess you could say. But, if I take some time off and kind of recharge mentally, physically, I feel in much better shape.
“It’s nice to come back,” he added. “You get excited to play golf. And anytime you’re excited, you’re extremely focused when you’re out here. And it’s a major championship, if you can’t get up for that, you might as well go home.”
Koepka spent his early years as a professional playing on the Challenge Tour and the European Tour and during that time he developed a love of links golf.
“Anytime I can come across the pond and play links, it’s special, especially after missing last year,” he said. “That wasn’t fun. It’s been two years since I’ve played links golf, I’d say.
“It’s the creativity I like,” he added. “I see so many different shots out here. And having to pick one is kind of hard, to be honest with you. You can hit so many different shots, you can hit low, high, draw, run it. And even off the greens you can flop it up there, if you want, if you’re ballsy enough to do that, or putt it or bump-and-run it. There’s just so much that goes into it in links golf.”
The American refuted the suggestion that his first win in a major had altered his outlook.
“No, it is still the same me,” he confirmed. “I’m not going to change. I haven’t changed. You’ve just got to hit a golf ball; that’s all you have to do.
“There’s no added pressure,” he added. “It’s not like it’s a sense of relief. I’ve still got goals that I want to obtain and I haven’t done those yet.
“So when I do, I’ll maybe look back at the end of my career and be extremely satisfied, or disappointed. But as of right now I still have got a few more to win.”