PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – It’s rare that Tiger Woods will turn up at a major venue having never before seen the course, but that’s the case this week at Royal Portrush, which is hosting The Open for the first time since 1951.
That’s led to more homework than usual for Woods and caddie Joe LaCava, as they try to prepare for the different winds and conditions they’ll encounter over the four tournament rounds. Trying to gather as much intel as he could in the run-up to the tournament, Woods said Tuesday that he also reached out to Brooks Koepka, the world No. 1 and major force whose caddie, Ricky Elliott, is a Portrush member.
Koepka’s response to Woods – or lack thereof – was telling.
“I said, ‘Hey, dude, do you mind if I tag along and play a practice round?’” Woods said, breaking into a smile. “I’ve heard nothing.”
After being edged out by Woods at the Masters, Koepka, of course, has his reasons for keeping his secret weapon to himself, especially on a layout that is known to many in the field but has been played by few.
“Every hole I just step up on: ‘You tell me what to do. You’ve played it more than anybody,’” Koepka said. “So I just let him figure it out. He knows his spots to miss it, the spots to come in from. I’ll definitely have a little bit more confidence having him on the bag this week, knowing this golf course so well.”