Brooks Koepka near PGA top — and 1 of his talents was on full display

Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka hits a shot on Thursday on the 17th hole at Valhalla Golf Club.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Patience. Patience. Patience. 

Three times Thursday during his press conference after his opening round in the PGA Championship, Brooks Koepka spoke the word. He said he tried to stay patient throughout his four-under 67 at Valhalla Golf Club, which put him in a spot to defend. He then said he tried to stay patient as he started slowly. He then said he tried to stay patient as others started quickly. Scores would come, he believed. The repetitiveness of the word was not happenstance. The five-time major winner emphasizes the thought. It’s one of his biggest weapons. 

So call it ironic when, after a reporter wanted to know if patience for Koepka was innate or acquired, Koepka sounded impatient with his answer, nearly blurting it out. 

“Oh, God no,” he said. “I’m not a patient person.”

It was an acquired taste, he said, and the process of how was revelatory. He said he learned the virtue by watching others. He started around a decade ago. He watched Rory McIlroy. Dustin Johnson. Graeme McDowell

Why did he watch them? Unsurprisingly, Kopeka said he was impatient. He said he couldn’t understand why he had to play conservatively. He said he couldn’t understand why he had to hit 7-irons to 15 feet. 

“It would drive me nuts,” Koepka said. 

So what did he pick up? Specifically, he remembered a shot from Johnson. And what followed. From the trees, Johnson hit a cart path, the ball ricocheted back to his feet — and Johnson laughed. 

Johnson laughed?

“I couldn’t understand that,” Koepka said. “I was talking to my agent about it. 

“And then getting to know DJ over the years, just kind of how he thinks and how he approaches things, I think that’s his biggest attribute is kind being able to just kind of, something bad happens, just kind of let it go, and if something good happens, you don’t want to get too high, too low, just kind of stay and ride the wave a little bit.”

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And that was more or less Koepka’s story Thursday. He was one-under through 15. Then he eagled the par-5 7th, his 16th hole of the day. Then he birdied the par-3 8th. And he was four-under, suddenly in contention. 

One more question, though, in this impromptu instructional back-and-forth. A reporter wondered, in his age of patience, whether there’s a time when patience is returned to the mental golf bag. 

There is, Koepka said. 


“On Sunday, if you’re four back with four to play or something like that,” Koepka said, “then you’ve got to take some risks. But pretty much for the first three days, I’m just trying to hit the center of the greens and get out of there. If you pull one, like I did on 7 and hit it close, it’s great. 

“The way I see it is, I’m pretty sure all my misses today were on the correct side of the hole, and that’s something that I notice. I don’t know if anybody else besides Ricky [caddie Ricky Elliott] is noticing that, but it felt that way. A lot of them were on the correct side.” 

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at

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