PEBBLE BEACH, CA – Winning two US Opens in a row apparently doesn’t get you into the promo for the tournament.
At least that’s what happened to two-time reigning champion Brooks Koepka.
“I actually didn’t see it for a long time,” said Koepka at the US Open preview press conference today. “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).”
Okay so maybe Koepka can be considered the Rodney Dangerfield of Champions.
And that may be the case for television types, but for those of us who actually follow the sports, Koepka commands everyone’s respect and here in Pebble, he will be going for history: Three in a row.
“I know the odds are stacked up probably even more against me now to go three in a row than to back it up,” he said. “It’s hard to win the same event three times in a row. I don’t know how many times it’s even been done on the PGA Tour, let alone a major championship.”
Unlike the last few Opens and PGAs, Koepka is expecting a different course at Pebble. Not a long as Bethpage and Shinnecock, he will be hitting less drivers and more strategic playing, with long roughs, fairways and greens will be on the menu, even if it takes an extra shot or two.
And the greens here are very small, and that will factor in as well.
“The rough is definitely going to be a factor this week, we all know that,” he said. “It’s very, very thick. Very juicy. You’ve got to put the ball in the fairways. Not many drivers here. I don’t need driver that much, maybe four times this week. But you need to put the ball in the fairway. These greens are so small, you can almost put it in the center of every green and have 20 feet, no matter where the flag stick is.
“It really comes down to who’s going to make putts. These are some of the best poa greens that I’ve seen.”
So the game plan, but there will be pressure, since Koepka is the guy everyone will be gunning for this week.
However, the two-time champion definitely has a game plan when the tournament starts.
“We just kind of go into our own little bubble, I guess, is a good way to put it,” he said. “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.”
This week, he has the NBA and Stanley Cup Finals, so there will be some distractions.
And for Koepka, hopefully that leads into a Sunday where he is either leading or in contention.
“It’s a major championship. I’m ready to go,” he said. “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.”
Maybe he will finally get that respect.