Brooks Koepka recounts memorable run-in with Tiger Woods as a 12-year-old fan: ‘Coolest thing ever’

January 14, 2020

Brooks Koepka has won at least one major in each of the last three seasons, but he still has research to do on 2020’s venues.

Koepka is obviously familiar with Augusta National and he played PGA Championship venue TPC Harding Park during the 2015 WGC Match Play, but he’s yet to tee it up at U.S Open venue Winged Foot or Open host Royal St. George’s. He has been to Royal St. George’s, however, during a family trip to the United Kingdom in 2003, and he stopped at that year’s Open Championship. Ben Curtis won, and while Koepka says he doesn’t really remember the holes, he does recall a brief interaction him and his younger brother Chase had with Tiger Woods that week. Woods tied for 4th, finishing two back of Curtis. Koepka retold that story during his Tuesday press conference at this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I remember it was actually kind of funny, my brother shouted at Tiger and he shouted back at my brother, something like, ‘Thanks, Bud,’ or whatever it was,” Koepka said. “We thought it was the coolest thing ever. I was 12, maybe, something like that. It’s been a while since then. I mean, I don’t remember much of it. I just remember Ben won coming down the stretch there.”

Fifteen years later, at the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive, it was Koepka who held off Woods in the final round to win his third major title and handed Woods a runner-up finish despite his closing 64. He’s added a fourth major since then, and this week’s European Tour event will be his first start since he withdrew from the CJ Cup with a knee injury in October.

“Still doing a lot of rehab,” he said. “Before gym, after the gym, getting in there. Been trying to make sure everything feels right, and it does not feel like my right knee, I’ll be honest with you. It doesn’t feel the same as my right. It probably won’t for a while. But it does feel stable.”

Koepka added that his knee has given him problems since March.

“But I don’t think anybody’s ever operating at 100 percent,” he said. “I think that’s a rarity in sports. I mean, especially with how much everybody’s dinged up a little bit. Nobody wants to hear an excuse. I’m not going to come out and tell you I’ve got the sniffles or tell you my knee hurts. Just get on with it and go play. I mean, I won with it, so I don’t see any issue with it.”

Koepka is grouped with Shane Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood for the first two rounds in Abu Dhabi.

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