By now, most people know that Brooks Koepka sat out the early part of this season with a wrist injury.
What they probably don’t know is just how serious it was.
Facing the media ahead of The Northern Trust this week – the first of the four FedEx Cup Playoff events – the three-time major champ revealed that doctors had given him “no assurance” that he would ever be able to play golf to a high level again.
Koepka, 28, missed almost four months – including the Masters and two World Golf Championships – at the beginning of the year with an injury that left him unable to hold a bottle of water without pain, never mind swing a club.
“My ECU tendon was barely hanging on,” he recalled. “The ligaments were gone, basically. I remember seeing all the MRIs and all the scans that we did and I'm no doctor but it didn't really look good as far as what they were telling me what I'm looking at and how it should look. I was like, ‘It doesn't look right’.
“It's a big tennis injury. I believe [Rafa] Nadal or [Roger] Federer had it and I think there's a couple of guys out here that have had it. You look at the possibility of never playing again or never being the same.”
He spent almost two-and-a-half months wearing a soft cast and did his best to stay positive but that that wasn’t without its challenges.
“I remember when I took the soft cast off and I went to go push down on like the shampoo bottle or the soap bottle and it hurt to do that,” he recalled “I was like, ‘Man, I'm in for a really long recovery’.
“There was no assurance [over a full recovery]. It has ended some guys’ careers.”
Fortunately, Kopeka did recover and returned at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at the end of April, where he missed the cut. He admits that, for a few weeks, he played with the fear of the problem flaring up again.
He added: “The second week out, in Charlotte [for the Wells Fargo Championship], I remember hitting it in the rough and that thought goes through your mind, ‘Well, what if I do this or what if I get next to a root?’
“I hadn't hit any bunker shots because I was more afraid of what might happen there. And there was a lot more doubt when I got out to the course I guess you could say whether it was going to be the same. But luckily everything's holding up.”