Bryson DeChambeau wishes to be the casino.
Now, rival Brooks Koepka wants to “run the table.”
After a blazing second-round finish Friday at the Workday Charity Open, Koepka revealed he was committing to next week’s Memorial Tournament, which will mean four straight weeks of action before Koepka attempts his three-peat at the PGA Championship.
Asked to explain his bulked-up schedule, Koepka said it was all in hopes of making sure he qualifies for the Tour Championship.
“I’m pretty far down in the FedExCup and need to make a run,” said Koepka, who entered this week at No. 155 in points, thanks in large part to a knee injury that hampered his fall and a coronavirus pandemic that took three months out of the Tour’s schedule. “I think it's pretty simple. I didn't plan on playing, but things change, and I'd like to be in Atlanta.
“That's what you've got to do; I'm going to basically run the table.”
Like a casino, Brooks?
While it’s not clear if those remarks were the latest shot at DeChambeau, whose power – and weight – gains have dominated the golf headlines, Koepka did garner some attention of his own earlier this week when he tweeted a video clip seemingly making fun of DeChambeau, who had just won last week in Detroit.
Koepka then turned his focus to Golf Channel analyst Paige Mackenzie, who said Thursday that Koepka should be fined for his tweet. Following a disappointing first-round 74 at Muirfield Village, Koepka fired another social-media shot, this time at Mackenzie.
“When you hear that annoying voice on tv and look up and see it’s @paigegolf,” wrote Koepka, commenting under a Golf Digest Instagram photo of him with the description, “Caption this.”
Koepka’s week clearly didn’t get off to the best of starts. Playing Thursday for the first time since withdrawing from the Travelers two weeks ago after his caddie tested positive for COVID-19 (former PGA Tour pro Marc Turnesa replaced Ricky Elliott on the bag this week), the world No. 6 went out in 5-over 41.
And through 29 holes, Koepka was looking at an early exit back home to South Florida – and plenty more Twitter time. He was 4 over late on Friday and had just missed a short birdie try at Muirfield Village’s par-5 11th hole.
But that’s when he suddenly flipped the switch – or in casino speak, let it ride – rattling off five birdies over his final seven holes to give himself a fighting chance to make the cut at Jack’s Place.
Despite the short miss at No. 11, he nearly aced the par-3 12th before making birdie. He hit his next approach to 4 feet to set up another birdie. Then at the par-5 15th, he almost holed a bunker shot for eagle. Two holes after that he spun a wedge back to 6 feet and put another circle on the card.
The fifth and final birdie on the back nine, though, was easily the most impressive. Koepka drove it in the right rough at the closing hole and could only get his approach to 38 feet. But facing a must-make if he wanted to have any chance of sticking around for two more rounds, Koepka sunk the hard, right-to-left breaker for 3-under 69 and a place in red numbers for the first time all week.
“Yeah, I mean, that's what you've got to do,” Koepka said. “I never give up, never think you're out of it, and you've just got to battle through it no matter what you're doing. That's part of why you're out here. You're a pro, you just sack up and do it.”
Now, Koepka just has to wait until Saturday morning to see if 1 under will be good enough.
Two weather delays prevented second-round action from finishing Friday. Play was suspended for darkness at 8:50 p.m. ET and will resume at 9 a.m. Saturday with 67 players at 2 under or better. Four players at 2 under still have holes to play, as do three guys at 1 under. The top 65 and ties advance to Saturday’s third round.
"I would still take it as a chance,” said Koepka’s playing competitor Justin Thomas. “The guys finishing in the morning will probably hurt that. But it's a funny game. I've been in that position before, unfortunately – or we all have – but it's almost like when you stop caring you start playing better. There's a lesson somewhere in that."
Whether or not he ends up flying home for the weekend, Koepka will now be back for the second leg of a Muirfield Village doubleheader. He initially was not in the Memorial field when it was released Friday evening with Koepka still on the course. (His late add bumped Padraig Harrington.)
But Koepka obviously felt he needed to play, that he needed to “sack up” and kick his butt into gear for the Tour’s fast-approaching stretch run.
Or he just can’t wait to beat the casino.