The knee simply isn’t progressing, Brooks Koepka is the first to admit, at least from a clinical standpoint. An MRI last week, before the start of play at the Memorial, revealed this unfortunate diagnosis on his left knee, and it’s something the Jupiter, Florida, resident has known for weeks.
But Koepka insisted on Tuesday, ahead of this week’s PGA Tour stop at TPC Twin Cities for the 3M Open, that it feels a bit better. And the four-time major winner also wants something else spelled out perfectly clear — he will not consider the knee an excuse for his recent string of poor finishes.
“I’ll be honest with you, Sunday was the best my knee’s felt in a really long time. I worked with my physio, Marc Wahl, quite a bit over the week. I don’t know. It was the first course we played where it’s actually been hilly. Going downhill, it bugged me a little bit, uphill’s fine, and that was the hilliest golf course we played,” he said. “But it feels a lot better. Just walking downhill’s a pain. It’s where that patellar extends and just try to adjust going down hills.
“It’s not an excuse of why I’ve been playing bad, I can promise you that.”
Koepka insisted he was feeling “a million times better” when the golf world restarted at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, but his recent results haven’t backed that up. Outside of a seventh-place finish at the RBC Heritage, Koepka hasn’t been a factor for months. In fact, Hilton Head Island marked his only top 25 showing of the season.
And that begs a bigger question —will that knee ever fully come around?
Koepka had an MRI on his knee on Monday…
doesn’t sound great. pic.twitter.com/oNwjliJleV
— Eric Patterson (@EPatGolf) July 18, 2020
In June, Koepka said that he thought the layoff was “definitely beneficial” after the layoff. Unfortunately, things seem to have regressed as Koepka has tried to play on it every week.
It started bothering him last year, requiring surgery Sept. 2 to repair a partially torn patella tendon, which he then re-aggravated in October when he slipped on wet concrete and was forced to withdraw from the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in South Korea.
And although he’s been working with a trainer for eight months, the results are mixed. Also, this isn’t a great time for Koepka to be less than 100 percent — he’s in the middle of a five-week run of tournaments with title defenses at WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis and then the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco in the near future.
Koepka admits he’s not where he’d like to be with those two events on the horizon.
“I just need to play good. I’ve played so bad lately. Yeah, just trying to find things. Every week I feel like the results aren’t there, but it’s getting better and better. My good shots are good, but I’ve just got to bring that bottom level up. I’ve hit some real costly shots,” he said. “I seem to miss it short-sided every time and that’s been kind of the downfall of why I haven’t played well. I missed it in very costly spots and just trying to figure out why that is. If I can bring the misses up, I’ll be fine.”
As of now, Koepka isn’t eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs, which are fast approaching. He’s 154th in the standings, and that might not allow him to ease up as the season continues. He said Tuesday he’s not certain how many events he’ll play down the stretch.
“By the end of the PGA, I was going to see how I feel. I probably have to go back to Challenge Tour days playing this many in a row, going five to seven weeks in a row and then trying to take a week off. But that was, what, six, seven years ago, so it’s been a while since I played this many in a row,” Koepka said. “But at the same time, I’ve had some weekends off, so it hasn’t been — it hasn’t been too bad yet.
“I mean, it’s one swing away. Everybody knows that golf’s that game where you make one good swing and everything clicks and it’s like all right, back to normal.”
By Tim Schmidt
This article originally appeared on GolfWeek.USAToday.com.