Nobody had more confidence than Brooks Koepka during his heyday. He was the most feared golfer on the biggest stage. He was built to win majors. The sports version of The Intimidator.
Nothing could get him off his game.
But during the filming of the Netflix docuseries “Full Swing” last year, Koepka appeared stunningly fragile. A golfer who lost all his confidence. Perhaps a glimpse into his decision to join LIV Golf.
And considering his two starts this year, Koepka, the Palm Beach County native and Jupiter resident, is showing no signs of emerging from a prolonged slump that has him in a space mentally he says he has never been in since taking up the game.
Photos: Brooks Koepka and Jena Sims through the years.
LIV rosters (from the Palm Beach Post): Shakeup to Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson teams highlight first release of LIV Golf rosters
“I’ve had these question marks for like the last year and a half,” Koepka said a year ago after missing the cut at the Masters. “Am I going to be the same golfer? Am I ever going to be the same? And I still don’t know where I’m at.
“I’ll be honest with you, I can’t compete with these guys week-in and week-out.”
And it did not get any better from there. Koepka played the last three majors of 2022, finishing 55th at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open and missing the cut at the Open Championship.
After joining LIV, the circuit financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Koepka won once and placed outside the top 10 in four other stroke-play events. His struggles then carried over to this year. In two Asian Tour starts in February, he missed the cut and finished tied for 46th.
Koepka returns for LIV’s second season, which starts Friday in Mayakoba, Mexico.
Koepka, 32, has had his share of injuries since winning four majors in a two-year span, ending with the 2019 PGA Championship. He spent 47 weeks at the top of the world golf rankings before injuries to his knees, neck, ankle, wrist, hip. Very few body parts were spared.
“Probably lost confidence a little bit if I’m honest,” he said after finishing third at the Phoenix Open a year ago but fading at the end. “So if you lose confidence, it’s kind of tough to get it back just immediately.”
Koepka was then filmed at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound working on his putting.
“When I was playing my best, even though I’m not a big stats guy, but I know I was the best inside 8 feet during that whole stretch,” he said. “And now I’m probably the worst. Struggling right now.
“Golf’s so crazy because when you have it you feel like you’re never going to lose it. And when you don’t have it you feel like you’re never going to get it. That’s kind of how I feel on the greens right now.”
Koepka was at his lowest on the series after the Masters, admitting to feeling “very embarrassed” after consecutive 75s.
“I never really felt that way leaving a golf course, ever,” he said. “Never felt embarrassed in the 32 years of life of playing golf. I don’t know why. Still don’t know why.”
“My whole career’s going like straight up and then all of a sudden I’m kind of on, I don’t want to say the other side of it, but, it’s like, OK, well we’re going down now. This is the worst I’ve ever struggled in my whole life. I have to figure out how to get out of this thing before it gets too late.”
It got worse before having that modest rebound against LIV fields lacking the talent and depth he would have been competing against on the PGA Tour.
Now the question is if Koepka ever does approach his stellar play from 2017-19, will he regret taking the money and running from the PGA Tour. Koepka reportedly received an estimated $100 million from LIV to make the switch, perhaps knowing the competition and pressure would not be at the level of the PGA Tour. According to one report, Koepka may be having “buyers remorse” and hoping to get back onto the Tour if he regains his form.
Greg Norman Jr., the son of LIV CEO Greg Norman, called the report “Bs” on social media.
— Greg Norman Jr (@GregJrNorman) February 16, 2023
But right now it appears Koepka is not in a place to think about returning to the Tour.
“Being at the low point you can either give up, you just lay there, or you just got figure it out,” he said about a year ago. “I think that’s where …
“I don’t know.”