Koepka (65) still sharp in first round since major win

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SOUTHPORT, England – Any semblance of rust was quickly knocked off by Brooks Koepka on Thursday at The Open when the reigning U.S. Open champion shot a 5-under 65 for a share of the early lead with Jordan Spieth.

The Open is Koepka’s first start since his victory last month at Erin Hills and he admitted he didn’t spend a lot of time during that break honing his game.

“You're going to laugh when I tell you, I played once with my manager. I think we played on, maybe July 6, 7, was the first time I touched a club [after the U.S. Open],” Koepka said. “Then did it one day for a photo shoot, and then came over here. That was it.”


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Still, Koepka said he didn’t expect there to be any rust and his play proved the point, with the 11th-ranked player in the world playing his first nine holes in a perfect 1 under before adding three birdies at Nos. 11, 12 and 13.

His only bogey was the result of a missed 3-footer for par at the 16th hole, but he quickly rebounded by holing out for eagle at the par-5 17th from a greenside bunker.

In fact, Koepka – who arrived at Royal Birkdale to begin preparations last Saturday – said his extended layoff gave him a renewed focused after winning the U.S. Open.

“It's just a mental thing,” he said. “If I start playing four or five weeks in a row, everything just seems to get nonchalant. You get to be in the routine and get used to it. If you take some time off and kind of recharge mentally, physically, I feel like I'm in really good shape right now, even with that time off mentally.”