Brooke Koepka – Making the Complicated Simple

Brooke Koepka – Making the Complicated Simple

Brooks Koepka: could the unblinking, uncomplicated, assassin be golf’s next chosen one

Brooks Koepka seems impervious to golfing nerves, a rare beast.
MATT YORK/AP
Brooks Koepka seems impervious to golfing nerves, a rare beast.

He’s like the Terminator with a golf club; almost impervious to feelings, to the kind of self-doubt that latches like a leech onto your subconscious.

It’s golf’s version of chicken, but Brooks Koepka seldom blinks. He’s what we think athletes really are; super humans who defy the laws of nerves. Could he be the next chosen one?

There is only one true god of golf; Jack Nicklaus. He of the weird little hunched putting style – a golden bear in plaid. Tiger too seemed godlike, but as the years rolled by he revealed he was actually human. Now we have a new pretender to the throne; Brooks Koepka. Could he solve one of science’s great unanswered questions – is golf actually a very simple game?

It seems the world’s No 1 male golfer has coated his mind in Teflon. I have always considered golf as a creation of Satan. You are lured under false pretences, thinking this will be a long walk punctuated by moments of success and refreshing beverages when really you are cast into a fiery pit of frustration and self-doubt with a wardrobe not accepted in any other sport or society on earth except maybe Auckland’s Remuera.

Brooks Koepka’s simple attitude to golf makes me want to cry. He’s given me hope and yet his simplicity of thought is just well, too simple, too easy.

In the last four majors he’s finished first, second, first, second. Just like that. At Pebble Beach on Monday he was right there at the end but Gary Woodland pulled a Koepka and managed not to blink.

But even when beaten, Brooks succeeds, the only player in the 119 editions of the US Open to shoot four rounds in the 60s and not win.

Ryder Cup pro Xander Schauffele describes the 29-year-old as a cockroach who ‘just won’t go away’. The last time I tried to kill one I chopped it in half and the halves continued to scuttle towards me.

Considering visualisation is an important tool in a pro’s toolkit, that is not the image they will want in their heads when they head to The Open next month.

Koepka looks at the seemingly insurmountable and nonchalantly turns it into a long walk up a gentle incline. In May he said the majors were ‘the easiest to win.’

He then described how he broke the field down mathematically, taking into account the cut, poor play and pressure, finally ending up with a handful of contenders,  ‘and you’ve just got to beat those guys’.

Nicklaus thought in this way and he won 18 majors. Amen.

Koepka’s mental toughness is often compared to Tiger’s. Woods won his fourth career major in his 15th as a professional. It took Koepka 22 which initially seems a lot but only because you’re comparing it to the second-best golfer who ever lived, so far.

Tiger got in Tiger’s way but Koepka seems like a different beast. His simplicity of approach and thought are breathtaking.

He points out majors are just another game of golf, a mantra which three-time major winner Rory McIlroy has been chanting recently after a five-year drought.

Koepka says it’s not hard, “It’s grind it out, suck it up, and move on.” He revels in the pressure and stress; the harder the course, the better.

Even at the PGA when his seven-shot lead shrunk to one in the final round and the crowd started cheering for Dustin Johnson, he called himself out for choking.

He actually said the word out loud knowing All Blacks can turn to dust if the c-word is uttered. “It’s New York. What do you expect, when you’re half-choking it away?”

Koepka doesn’t see why he can’t become only the third golfer to reach double digits in major wins – why wouldn’t he when he has seemingly solved one of sport’s greatest mind f….s; by playing golf, B.S. and pain free?

“You don’t have to try to go win it. Just hang around. If you hang around, good things are going to happen.”

Easy as. If he triumphs on the links at Royal Portrush and raises the Claret Jug next month, I will believe.

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