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The 148th Open Royal Portrush

Practice makes perfect


Koepka embracing Portrush prep in search of more major glory

Brooks Koepka

It’s once again a major week, which means you can find Brooks Koepka on the golf course.

Hardly a revelation for most in the field for The 148th Open, but Koepka has become somewhat of an outlier in recent months. There’s his domination of the game’s biggest events, with four wins in the last 25 months and four straight finishes of either first or second in the majors.

But that form is juxtaposed with a pedestrian record in other recent events, like a T-57 finish at the Travelers Championship or a 65th-place showing at the 3M Open. Koepka has been open in the past about his elevated focus around the majors, and he doubled down on that notion Tuesday while speaking to reporters at Royal Portrush.

“I just practice before the majors. Regular tournaments I don’t practice,” Koepka said. “If you’ve seen me on TV, that’s when I play golf.”

Ricky Elliott

Koepka has plenty of practice in store this week, though, as he learns the Dunluce Links for the first time. Following his week in Minnesota, Koepka arrived in Northern Ireland on Friday and has spent the past few days learning the many nuances and challenges the course presents.

He’ll be heavily-reliant this week on his caddie and Portrush native, Ricky Elliott, who has played Royal Portrush dozens of times and who Koepka hopes can supplement his lack of course knowledge with hefty doses of local insight.

“It’s nice. Every hole I just step up and say, ‘You tell me what to do. You’ve played it more than anybody,’” Koepka said. “He knows the spots to miss it. The spots to come in from, with different hole locations and different winds. I’ll definitely have a little bit more confidence having him on the bag this week, knowing this golf course so well.”

“I just practice before the majors. Regular tournaments, I don't practice. If you see me on TV, that's when I play golf.” brooks koepka

A trend has emerged around Koepka’s recent major performances, one of which he’s keenly aware: each of his four victories have come when he played the week prior. Having skipped last week to focus on adapting his game to links play, he’s planning to forge a new path to major glory by embracing the variability this championship presents.

“Every time I’m over a golf ball, I see about 20 different shots you could play. To me, it makes it interesting,” Koepka said. “Being able to play so many different types of shots and get it close to the hole, using your imagination, that’s what I enjoy. That’s what makes it so much fun to play.”