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After snapping an 18-month winless drought stretching with victory in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Brooks Koepka opened up on the mental struggles he has endured over the last few years.
The four-time major champion tore through the pack at TPC Scottsdale, overturning a five-shot 54-hole deficit to win for the first time since the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in July 2019.
The victory gives Koepka his ninth PGA Tour title at the scene of his first back in 2015 and arrests a worrying slump in form that, amongst other things, had seen him miss the cut on his three previous starts.
It also moves him up one spot on the Official World Golf Ranking, from 13th to 12th, and comes exactly a year after he surrendered top spot to Rory McIlroy. Koepka’s slide down the standings was prompted by an injury to his left knee, sustained during his CJ CUP title defence in South Korea in October 2019.
The injury forced him to withdraw from the Presidents Cup in December 2019 and blighted him throughout 2020, causing him to miss the season-ending FedEx Cup Playoffs.
After winning in Phoenix, the usually stoic Koepka revealed the toll his injury problems took on him.
“It’s been really humbling,” said the 30-year-old. “I’ve had some real dark moments. I was in some dark places mentally. I didn’t know if I was ever going to be the same again. My [left] knee just didn’t feel the same as my right one. I was in some dark places, I’m not going to lie.
“I think that’s probably the toughest thing, where you don’t know if you’re ever going to be the same competitor that you were.
“But I just look at all that hard work I’ve done with [trainer] Derek [Samuel], and the work I’ve done with Butch [Harmon], Pete [Cowen] and everybody. I’m very proud of myself and proud of those guys for everything they’ve done. I can’t say enough about them.”
Koepka’s win was capped by a stunning chip-in for eagle on the 17th that catapulted him to 19-under-par.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 7, 2021
“if I just caught it right in the fringe it was going to check up on me, and it did perfectly,” said Koepka afterwards. “Took a nice little right kick for me, and didn’t look anywhere else but the hole.
“Happy for that one to go in. Hell of a week.”
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