FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Just before 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Jena Sims was standing on the right side of the 1st fairway at Bethpage Black, blending into the crowd — at least as much as an actress and model can in a sea of khaki shorts and visors — and straining for a look at Brooks Koepka as he readied to hit his approach.
A teenage boy was nearby. “Are you Koepka’s girlfriend?” he asked.
“Yes,” Sims replied with a smile. The boy’s face lit up. “Can I take a photo with you?”
Sims graciously obliged. “I told you it was her!” he crowed to his friend.
The photo-op opened the floodgates, as several other fans waited for their souvenir snapshot.
“Does this happen all the time?” I asked her. “It does,” she said. “But it’s nice.”
Koepka may be making history in this year’s PGA Championship, but Sims, his girlfriend of two-plus years, is no stranger to fame. Not only is she a working model and an actress with more than 136,000 Instagram followers, but she also founded a nonprofit, Pageant of Hope. She was a day late getting to Bethpage because she was shooting a commercial in Florida.
Fans first got to know Sims when she appeared on the telecast of Koepka’s breakout win at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills. But her profile skyrocketed in the wake of Koepka’s win at the 2018 PGA Championship, when a viral screenshot featuring Sims smiling at Tiger Woods made the rounds on social media.
“Now, I think [fans] are aware of who I am.” she said.
After Koepka finished the 1st hole (it was difficult to see much of him through the crowds), we were caught in a 10-minute logjam of fans waiting to cross the street to the 2nd hole. By the time we got through, Koepka was nearing the 3rd hole, which required more crowd navigation, with no golf in sight.
Sims sometimes tries to catch Koepka’s eye when he’s the course, but that was easier said than done on days like today.
“I’m so not discreet,” Sims said with a laugh. “I’ll just wave, and he’ll tip his hat. I’ll blow him a kiss. I’m not trying to be too low-key. If I see him and he sees me, I’m like, ‘Hi!'”
Sims rarely walks all 18. Not because she doesn’t enjoy the stroll, but because it’s hard to see everything when you’re navigating huge crowds. During what is likely to be a coronation round for Koepka on Sunday, Sims plans to post up indoors.
“I might not walk tomorrow,” she says. “I’ll probably just chill in family dining and watch it on TV with [Koepka’s] agent [Blake Smith]. We have a good time together.”
Sims’ friendliness and approachability has no doubt been a positive influence on Koepka. Lest we forget, Sims and Koepka started dating just before his first major win, the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills. Since they’ve been together, he’s bagged two additional majors, and is now poised to claim his fourth. Coincidence?
“He’s very aware of his success and the timing of our relationship,” Sims laughs. “I can’t take the credit for that. All I can do is make him happy. I’m quirky and weird, I like to make him laugh. I encourage him to be himself.”
Whatever Koepka and Sims are doing is certainly working. And Sims is content to watch it all play out from afar.
“I really don’t get that stressed [watching Brooks] because I’m not out there swinging a club,” she said as we parted ways. “I’m just enjoying myself. I’m here for him. At this point, he’s so far ahead, I’m just enjoying watching him play.”
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