One Open to another, Koepka back as a major champ


SOUTHPORT, England – Brooks Koepka hasn’t played a competitive round since he captured his first major trophy in the U.S. Open last month at Erin Hills.

Koepka hasn’t played The Open since he tied for 10th place at the Old Course two years ago. He missed last year because of a torn ligament in his ankle.

Both things will change here Thursday at Royal Birkdale, a place that Koepka loves and calls his favorite on The Open rota.

“There are a lot of options off the tee,” he said Tuesday. “You can be aggressive off the tee or you can lay back.”

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Koepka, 27, wouldn’t divulge too much about how he spent his month away from the Tour, a sabbatical that was planned even before his U.S. Open triumph. He did say that he spent a lot of time at his South Florida home and admitted that he finally got the itch to return inside the ropes once Fourth of July was over.

“I found it pretty easy to get away,” Koepka said. “I was kind of not looking for a break but I kind of needed one, more mentally than anything. It was nice to have a few weeks off. But last week I started to getting into it and getting antsy to get back out there.

“So it felt good to get out here Saturday and play some holes and actually feel like you’re back in the normal routine.”

Links golf is Koepka’s favorite kind to play, something he developed after college during his time spent on the European and Challenge tours.

“I think it’s the best kind of golf you can play,” he said. “So much imagination goes into it. You can play 10 different shots from the middle of the fairway and I think that’s so cool. You’ve really got to be creative. It’s not just a stock shot like it is in America.”