“I mean, it was a lot worse than I let on to you guys; let on to everybody.”
Brooks Koepka was laying it all out there after he captured the US PGA Championship at Oak Hill, on Sunday, to become a five-time major winner.
The American, who jumped from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf last year, won his first four majors in a two-year stretch but his last major triumph was in 2019. As he admitted in the Netflix documentary, Full Swing, he doubted whether he would ever be able to compete with the likes of Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm again.
Injury issues mostly behind him now, Koepka was in final day contention at the US Masters, six weeks ago, and he took it to the limit at Oak Hill. Viktor Hovland stuck with him all the way until the 16th hole but a three-shot swing ended that contest and it was a cruise.
Following his victory, Koepka opened up about his struggles to get back amongst the world’s best and the help he received from his Northern Irish caddie.Brooks Koepka and his caddie Ricky Elliott look over a shot on the eighth hole during the final round of the 2023 Masters Tournament. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Brooks Koepka on Ricky Elliott
Brooks Koepka was dogged by knee issues that ended up affecting other parts of his body, as he trying to get rehabbed and realigned while jetting all over the USA and the world to compete in tournaments and fulfil sponsor obligations.
Having given Netflix viewers an insight into his mental process, and struggles, on Full Swing, the 33-year-old was asked if that was still even the full story. He told reporters:
“It’s tough. It’s very hard to explain. It’s just, like, you can’t fathom how difficult it is just to get going. I mean, it was a lot worse than I let on to you guys, let on to everybody.
“Like I said, I think maybe only five, six people really know the extent of it, and it’s just… it was hard. Cold weather, it was achy. The swelling [around my knee] didn’t go down until maybe a couple months ago.
“I mean, so that’s almost, what, two years? It’s been a long road. But look, that’s who I am. I’m open and honest. I know I seem like this big, bad, tough guy on the golf course that doesn’t smile, doesn’t do anything, but if you catch me off the golf course, I’ll let you know what’s going on.
“Like, I’m happy they got that side; right? That’s truly me, and some people might hate it, some people might dog it, but at the end of the day, it’s just me.”
Koepka was then asked about his long-time caddie, Portrush native Ricky Elliott.
The golfer and his caddie are extremely close and Keopka explained how he ‘forced him to come out’ to Florida when his surgery was being done.
“No one wanted to come with me,” he said. “My brother was playing The Honda Classic. My parents were staying there. Jena [my wife] just had surgery on her ankle, so she couldn’t fly out there. So I made Rick come, and Rick spent probably two, two and a half weeks with me out in L.A.
“Yeah, I feel bad for him that he was stuck with me there for a while. He was tired of me; I was tired of him!
“I don’t know if he gets enough credit for being as good of a caddie as he is. Caddying is a lot about reading the people, reading your player, knowing what they are going to do before they even do it and kind of sense the moment of what to say, what not to say. Honestly, I thought he’s one of the best for a long time, and I don’t think he gets enough credit, maybe even from me.”
The Florida native is not normally one for getting too soapy or emotional but he welled up and let a lot out as he headed from the 18th green, after his win, to the scoring tent.
“Yeah, I think it was definitely what I accomplished,” he said. “Pardon my language, but it’s all the f***ing s**t I had to go through. No one knows. No one knows, I think, all the pain. There’s a lot of times where I just couldn’t even bend my knee.
“Yeah, it felt good. It felt really good.”
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