Critics be damned. Brooks Koepka vindicated his decision to slim down – reportedly for an upcoming magazine photoshoot – by storming into a share of the first round lead at The Masters.
The 28-year-old had six birdies – including four in a row from the 12th – en route to a 66 and a tie for the lead with fellow American Bryson DeChambeau.
Even more impressive was the way Koepka did it. He hit 12 out of 14 fairways and 15 of his 18 greens in regulations, putting him on track to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2000/01 to win three of the last four majors.
If he played like a man who had a point to prove, that’s because he did.
Earlier in the week, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee tore into his preparation for the first men’s major championship of the year. Chamblee took issue with Koepka’s decision to lose 25lbs since November, reportedly to appear in ESPN Magazine’s ‘Body Issue’, calling it “the most reckless self-sabotage that I have ever seen by an athlete in their prime”.
Asked for his take on Chamblee’s comments – which we are led to believe he was aware of before he teed off – Koepka was unmoved.
“When I lift too many weights, I’m too big to play golf then when I lose weight I’m too small,” he shrugged. “I don’t know what to say. Listen, I'm going to make me happy. I don't care what anybody else says. I'm doing it for me, and obviously it seems to work.”
He added that there was no way he would have let anything interfere with his preparation for Augusta.
“I knew I was going to be ready for this week,” he said. “I didn’t feel too good at The Players but I’m not going to jeopardise a major championship.”