Brooks Koepka announced on Wednesday that he has dropped out of the 2019 Presidents Cup. Koepka, who finished first in the points standings for the American team during the official qualifying period, underwent a painful knee procedure after the Tour Championship in August, and re-injured the knee at the C.J. Cup in September after slipping on wet concrete.
“I notified Captain Tiger Woods that despite constant medical care and rehab, I am not able to play golf at this time,” Koepka said in a statement. “I consider it to be a high honor to be part of the 2019 team, and I regret not being able to compete.
Koepka, the No. 1 player in the World Ranking, said he had been making efforts in his recovery to be ready to compete at Royal Melbourne. However, the healing had not progressed as he had hoped.
“I’m sorry I won’t be able to represent the Red, White, and Blue this time around, and I wish my teammates nothing but the best as they work to retain the Presidents Cup,” Koepka said.
Woods, who will also be playing for the U.S. team, added: “Brooks and I talked, and he’s disappointed that he won’t be able to compete. I told him to get well soon, and that we’re sorry he won’t be with us in Australia. He would clearly be an asset both on the course and in the team room.”
Replacing Koepka is Rickie Fowler, who is making his sixth consecutive appearance in a team event (Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup) for the Americans.
Fowler, 30, won the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 2019 and had six top-10 finishes during the 2018-’19 PGA Tour season. He has not played competitively since East Lake in August, taking time off for his wedding and withdrawing from the Mayakoba after coming down with an illness on his honeymoon.
“When I heard Brooks wasn’t going to be ready to play, I was bummed for him and the team,” Fowler said. “Then I got a call from both Brooks and Tiger. I was humbled and excited to be given the chance. These team events have been some of the most memorable weeks of my career. To be picked by Tiger to compete with him and the rest of the team is very special. It is impossible to replace the world’s No. 1, but I can assure my teammates and American golf fans that I will be prepared and ready to do my part to bring home the Presidents Cup.”
Fowler went 3-0-1 at the 2017 Presidents Cup, compiling the second-most points in the Americans’ steamroll victory.
“I spoke to Rickie and he has agreed to join the U.S. team,” Woods said. “Rickie has played on a couple Presidents Cup teams, was someone seriously considered for a pick and is well respected and liked by his teammates. I know he’s going to do a great job for us. We’re all excited about this year’s event. The course is outstanding, the fans will be loud and we’re playing against great competitors. We’re ready to go.”
The 2019 Presidents Cup begins on Dec. 12. The United States has won the past seven biennial matches, although the lone International win in the series came at Royal Melbourne in 1998.
By Joel Beall
This article originally appeared on GolfDigest.com