PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Brooks Koepka journeyed to golf’s version of the mystic on the mountain for help with his swing.
Frustrated with his game heading into The Players Championship, Koepka flew to Las Vegas after Sunday’s Arnold Palmer Invitational to meet with Butch Harmon, coach to so many world No. 1s and major championship winners before he went into quasi-retirement last year. They worked together on Monday.
“It's one of those things where I just needed a different set of eyes, maybe something might click, because I was failing,” Koepka said Wednesday in his pre-tournament news conference.
Harmon gave Koepka his fix.
“He saw it in four swings,” Koepka said. “I had planned on being out there all day on Tuesday, except he told me to fly out here, to get out here and practice, because he felt like everything was on the right track. Now, it’s our job to make sure that it progresses.”
Yes, Koepka is still working with Butch’s son, Claude Harmon, as his swing coach, with Pete Cowen as his short-game coach and with Jeff Pierce as his putting coach; but he said the Harmons are like family, which kind of makes Butch the Godfather on Koepka’s team.
“I needed a little bit of reassurance for myself that I was making the right choices,” Koepka said. “I had Claude’s blessing. I told Pete. They were all behind it.”
Butch declined to comment when contacted by GolfChannel.com, saying Koepka said what he wanted to say and that should stand.
Koepka, 29, winner of four majors, lost his world No. 1 ranking to Rory McIlroy a month ago. He played through a knee injury much of last season, a malady he treated with a stem-cell injection after the Tour Championship. He reaggravated the injury in Asia in the fall and took three months off, missing the Presidents Cup. He hasn’t found his form since returning in January. In five worldwide starts this year – two in the Middle East on the European Tour and three on the PGA Tour – he has yet to record his first top-10. He missed the cut at the Honda Classic two weeks ago and tied for 47th at Bay Hill last week.
“My knee's fine,” Koepka said. “My knee's exactly where it should be.
“It's all me not being able to do what Claude's told me to do, what Pete's told me to do, Jeff on the putting – that's me. Whether it's lack of concentration, focus, decisiveness, whatever it might be, that's all on my shoulders. It has nothing to do with anybody else.”
Koepka didn’t detail exactly what Butch found in his swing.
“There are a few things that were wrong, and the two things he told me were the same thing Claude's been telling me, but just in a different way, and it clicked, or it felt better,” Koepka said.