En route to a Hall of a Fame career at just 28, Brooks Koepka doesn’t want or need your love.
Brooks Koepka appears to be driven by what he perceives to be a lack of appreciation for his game. His one is a curious case.
He took the road less travelled by US stars – a spell on the European Tour – whether that was done to grind out his best game or a kind of self-imposed exile, it’s now in the past but certainly did pay off.
His nonchalant finish to his domination at the PGA Championship where he tapped in ahead of Adam Scott’s par attempt was correctly questioned in many quarters. Why not, as is custom, wait to make the final putt of the championship and take in the glory alone?
Koepka could hear all around him the roars from the legions following Tiger – a charging 42-year-old and considered by many as the game’s greatest. The now three-time Major champion does not have that charm. He is not, after all, a golfer, or a ‘golf nerd’; no, he is an athlete. And a mighty impressive one at that.
He may feel rightly aggrieved that his battering of Erin Hills was not given enough credit – so much of the aftermath was spent breaking down the venue instead of admiring how he broke down the venue and the field.
Then came injury and a kind of drop off the radar. Maybe he dropped so far out of consideration due to his lack of charisma when it comes to entertaining the fans or showing emotions of a first-time winner?
He skipped this year’s Masters through injury before returning for his low-key US Open defence. It wasn’t low-key for long as he emerged out of the pack to defend his title.
Still, he felt he was not receiving the kind of praise dished out to his friend Dustin Johnson or America’s Golden Child Jordan Spieth.
It’s the small things that have proven to be his motivation.
‘I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder,’ Koepka says. ‘Even if you’re No 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.
‘I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill.
‘You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.’
It appears now that he has driven a divide between him and the masses.
He likes it that way.
Once appearing to crave attention, he now craves the opposite; he figures it helps make him great.
‘I always feel like I’m overlooked,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t bug me. I just kind of keep doing what I’m doing, keep plugging away, kind of hide behind closed doors sometimes, which is nice – kind of the way I’d like to keep it.’
Koepka won’t be ignored as a contender anymore after racing to three Majors in double quick time. He’s now two ahead of Johnson – prolific on the PGA TOUR but unable to replicate his brutal form when it counts – and just one behind Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
Koepka has every ingredient to be a poster child for the modern game. It just that being that doesn’t suit him. He’s linked up with a few close allies and now appears to treat the rest with a kind of standoffish tone that you would associate with Patrick Reed.
Friends? He has enough. He doesn’t want your love. He wants Major championships.