Koepka preps for PLAYERS by consulting Butch Harmon
The 7-time TOUR winner is hoping ‘something might click’
March 11, 2020
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
- March 11, 2020
Brooks Koepka on making swing adjustments before THE PLAYERS
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Brooks Koepka made a quick trip to Las Vegas on Monday to consult with Butch Harmon in preparation for THE PLAYERS Championship.
Koepka’s usual coach is Claude Harmon III, one of Butch’s sons. Claude gave his blessing for the former world No. 1 to pay a visit to the family patriarch, Koepka said.
“I felt like I just I had so much going on in my head,” Koepka explained Wednesday. “So many swing thoughts and needed to clear the slate, and the Harmons are family to me, and so we flew out Sunday, went and saw Butch Monday, and got in (to the Jacksonville, Florida area) yesterday afternoon.”
Koepka has struggled to come back from a knee injury that plagued him for much of last season. He received stem-cell therapy on the knee after the TOUR Championship in late August, and returned to THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES in October only to reinjure the knee slipping on concrete.
He withdrew from the tournament and missed the Presidents Cup in December.
Although Koepka returned to competition in January, his best finish in five worldwide starts is a T17 at the Saudi International on the European Tour. In his three PGA TOUR starts, he finished T43 at The Genesis Invitational, missed the cup at The Honda Classic, and finished T47 last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard in which he posted a third-round 81.
Consequently, he slipped from world No. 1 to his current No. 3 position. This week at THE PLAYERS, he will play with No. 1 Rory McIlroy, the defending champion, and No. 2 Jon Rahm in the first two rounds.
Although Claude Harmon is his usual coach, Butch is not unfamiliar with Koepka’s game. The 76-year-old Harmon, who has worked with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, among other notables, cut back on his travel to TOUR events a year ago and lives in Las Vegas.
“Butch has seen me swing it a million times,” said Koepka, a seven-time TOUR winner. “He knows -- I've seen him at Floridian a million times and he's stood there when I'm hitting balls with Claude and he's stood there at the Ryder Cup. It's one of those things where I just needed a different set of eyes, maybe something might click, because I was failing.”
The knee is fine, he added. It’s just that he hasn’t had many competitive rounds on TOUR — 14 since last Aug. 25. Koepka also said he had a team meeting Tuesday that included his coaches and caddie.
“My knee's exactly where it should be,” Koepka said. “It's just a matter of execution, taking care of what I need to take care of. It has nothing to do with my knee. It's all me not being able to do what Claude's told me to do, what Pete's [Cowan] told me to do, Jeff [Pierce] on the putting. That's me, whether it's lack of concentration, focus, decisiveness, whatever it might be, that's all on my shoulders, it has nothing to do with anybody else.”
His record at TPC Sawgrass has not been without highlights. In 2018, he made an albatross at the par-5 16th in the final round while tying the course record with a 63 to finish T11. A year earlier, he was T16.
“It's pretty fundamental stuff, I just wasn't doing it, to put it very bluntly,” he said of his meeting with Butch Harmon. “You fall into bad habits, yes, and sometimes you just got to work your way out of them. What Butch said, I mean he saw it in four swings, I think, and told me a couple things and I had planned on being out there all day Tuesday and except he told me to fly home, fly out here, or well, not fly home, fly here, and get out here and practice.
“He felt like everything was on the right track,” Koepka added, “and now it's our job to make sure that it progresses and it progresses nicely with Claude.”