Teenage Brooks Koepka fell in love at Royal St. George's
July 13, 2021
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
- July 13, 2021
- Brooks Koepka has long liked Royal St. George's. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SANDWICH, England – A 13-year-old Brooks Koepka fell in love with links golf on a trip around the 2003 Open Championship at Royal St. George's – even though he slept through the winning putt from champion Ben Curtis.
The eight-time PGA TOUR winner and four-time major champ was flooded with fond memories from a golf trip of a lifetime during his childhood as he returned in preparation for the 149th Open Championship.
“We got the opportunity to come over here and play St. Andrews, Carnoustie, (and) come watch the final round of The Open. Me, my mom and my little brother, we came over a couple days early from when the whole thing was going to start, and just got to play links golf. I thought it was so much fun. That's kind of when I fell in love with it,” Koepka said.
Koepka and his fellow touring pro brother Chase were able to have an exchange with idol Tiger Woods during The Open, but when it came to being present at the finish, Brooks, like Woods that year, came up a little short.
As longshot Curtis made his last-ditch par putt to get in the clubhouse at 1 under and Dane Thomas Bjorn was coughing up a lead to hand the American the Claret Jug, Koepka was earning the ire of his mother.
“I remember my brother at the time, he thought it was so cool. Tiger was playing on 13 and my brother had said something and Tiger said something back to him, and we thought it was the coolest thing at the time,” Koepka grinned.
“It's kind of funny, I think with about three holes left… I ended up falling asleep right in the little pavilion to the right of 18 and didn't even see the finish. I remember getting yelled at by my mom. 'I didn't bring you over here to fall asleep' kind of deal. But it was fun. We enjoyed the whole trip, and it was a cool family trip.”
With the reminiscing done Koepka’s attention turned to the tournament at hand. He arrives with three top-5 finishes on the PGA TOUR in his last four starts, including a runner-up at the PGA Championship and a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open.
With three top-10s in his last four Open Championship starts, Koepka looks like a huge threat as he looks to chalk up a third leg of a career Grand Slam. Ironically, he says his success in the majors may have hurt his Open Championship efforts in the past.
“I probably haven't played my best over here. I think over the last couple years -- I don't want to say it's been a distraction, but I've won the PGA or the U.S. Open before, and I've enjoyed those weeks after a little too much,” he said.
“Maybe I always don't have the best of prep coming into this. But I feel good … coming off a couple good finishes. Felt like I was playing well. I'm pretty excited for this week. It's a major, so I'll be up for it, and excited to play.
“I've always enjoyed playing links golf. I think it takes a lot of creativity and imagination. In the States a lot of times you just throw it up high in the air and the ball is going to stop, where (here) you've really got to pay attention where the ball is going to bounce into the green. You might have 50 yards but you've got about six clubs you could play. I think that's fun. It brings out the creative side. It's fun. I love it.”
This week it might just love him back.