Rested Koepka plays way into final group at WMPO


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – After collecting passport stamps for the better part of two years, Brooks Koepka needed a break.

Koepka played the European Challenge Tour in 2013, then spent last year splitting his time between the European Tour and PGA Tour. Now equipped with full status in the U.S., the 24-year-old finally put his clubs away for more than a month this offseason.

“Got a little tired of golf, to be honest with you. Tired of travel,” Koepka said. “Went on vacation and didn’t touch a club. The more rest I have, usually the fresher I come out.”

That last part was evident Saturday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where Koepka shot a 7-under 64 to move into contention. At 10 under, he trails Martin Laird by three shots and will play in Sunday’s final group alongside Laird and Hideki Matsuyama.

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Koepka is in search of his first PGA Tour victory, but he did win in November at the European Tour’s Turkish Airlines Open. While many players would view a trophy as a validation, Koepka identified an issue in his putting stroke and began addressing it with coach Claude Harmon immediately after the win.

“The stroke under pressure, it was going left,” he said. “Wasn’t finishing the stroke, wasn’t getting the putter high enough in the finish. But now everything seems to be on track and the ball is actually rolling more end-over-end. I’m going to start to see a lot more 20- to 25-footers roll in, and I have this week.”

Koepka has had chances in the past to win in the U.S., notably at the 2013 Open where he squandered a 54-hole lead. While he feels he has “given up four or five wins already,” Koepka also maintains some perspective as he embarks on his first full season on the PGA Tour.

“I just started a career,” he said. “It’s going to happen.”