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POY Koepka reflects on a hectic but happy year

By Doug FergusonOctober 9, 2018, 9:09 pm

Brooks Koepka had two sets of daily reminders for a season that PGA Tour players voted as the best.

One was his annual list of goals that he writes every Jan. 1 during quiet time on the beach, some of them golf specific, some of them about life. He tacks the list in the middle of his closet so he can't miss it when he's getting dressed, packing for a trip or getting his watch and wallet.

''I'm definitely ahead of schedule on certain things,'' Koepka said Tuesday.

No doubt he was referring to winning two majors, which made him the obvious choice as PGA Tour player of the year. His second straight U.S. Open title made him the first back-to-back winner since Curtis Strange in 1988-89. His two-shot victory in the PGA Championship made him only the fifth player in 100 years to win in the same season the two U.S. majors held on different courses.

And he missed on a few goals.

One was to not miss a cut, which ended in Canada with a 77 in the opening round that led to a weekend off. Another was to finish in the top 10 in half of his events.

And then there was one that made him laugh just to say it.

''Stay healthy,'' Koepka said.

His left wrist was bothering him last December in the Bahamas, where he finished last in an 18-man field, 21 shots out of the lead. A month of rest didn't help. He started the new year at Kapalua and finished last in a 34-man field, 37 shots behind.

Photos: Koepka through the years

Only then did he discover a partially torn tendon that kept him out of the Masters during his four months away from golf.

That led to the second reminder.

It was a quote from Kobe Bryant after the Los Angeles Lakers great ruptured his Achilles tendon. Koepka set the quote as wallpaper eight months ago so that he would see it every time he activated his phone.

''It was too long for me to quote it exactly, but it was to wake up every day and find the positive because you were one step closer to being you, and to enjoy the moments of frustration because with each step you get better and better, and to embrace those moments,'' Koepka said.

''I just changed it the other day.''

Koepka leaves this weekend for the start of a new PGA Tour season, even though the year isn't over. He is playing the CJ Cup in South Korea, followed by the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, and then his title defense at the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan the weekend before Thanksgiving.

This was his one week at home, a chance to more clearly view the happy side to the year.

The ballots were sent to PGA Tour players right after the Tour Championship. In the week before the votes were due, Koepka was part of his first losing U.S. team at the Ryder Cup. One of his tee shots during the opening session struck a spectator, causing her to lose sight in her right eye. He was shaken when it happened, and then the following week when he learned the extent of the damage.

''I'm heartbroken,'' he said at St. Andrews for the Dunhill Links Championship.

There also was a report that Koepka and Dustin Johnson, one of his best friends in golf, had to be separated during a skirmish at a Ryder Cup party. Koepka says they didn't fight and that he and Johnson found the report to be ''funny.''

Johnson was at The Bear's Club when Koepka won the Jack Nicklaus Award, and they made a short video poking fun at the fight before Johnson congratulated him on winning player of the year.

''I've got one of these, too,'' Johnson said.

''Well, this bad boy's mine,'' Koepka replied.

Getting another one will be no small feat if Koepka chooses to put that on next year's list.

He is the sixth winner in the last six years, the longest streak since players began voting on the award in 1990. The most recent winners were Justin Thomas, Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.

Thomas and Johnson won three times and took turns at No. 1. That doesn't trump two majors by a guy who spotted the field some four months.

''So many guys can take over the top spot,'' Koepka said. ''It's probably the best group of guys that I've ever seen, and they keep coming. And you throw Tiger into the mix now. You never know what's going to happen.''

Koepka never saw a year like this coming, at least not the way it started.

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Ahead by four, No. 1 ranking within Koepka's grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One behind overnight leader Scott Piercy to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under. Cabrera Bello will round out the final tee time with Koepka and Poulter.

Best of the rest: Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Emiliano Grillo signed for 66. Casey went seven straight holes without a par, Matusyama was bogey-free, and Grillo did all his damage on the back nine after nine consecutive pars on the front.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.

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Watch: Koepka flies ball 330 yards, drives green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 4:44 am

It's a good thing par doesn't actually matter in tournament play, because if it did, the PGA Tour would have to consider 350-yard par-3s, and even those might not stop Brooks Koeopka.

Already ahead by two during Saturday's third round at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka drove the green at the par-4 14th, carrying his ball 330 yards to the front edge.

The back-to-back U.S. Open champ would go on to two-putt for birdie and push his lead to three.

... The USGA is going to try that 350-yard par-3 idea, isn't it?

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Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.