Brooks Koepka has won three of his last seven majors played. He became the first player in nearly 30 years to go back-to-back in the US Open, with wins in 2017 and 2018.
He finished T-2 to Tiger Woods at the Masters, and Koepka seems custom built to play his best in golf’s most taxing championships.
The reigning PGA and US Open champion made it clear why his mentality is perfect for the major championships. He knows, going into any of the majors, he has a huge edge over most of the field before the tournament ever starts.
“Like I said, sometimes the majors are the easiest ones to win,” he said. “Half the people shoot themselves out of it, and eventually I know I can beat most of them. From there, it’s just those [top] guys left. Who’s going to play good? And who can win?”
He broke it down further in the context of the PGA Championship, with 156 players:
“You figure, at least 80 of them, I’m just gonna beat. From there, you figure about half of them won’t play well, so you’re down to about maybe 35. And then from 35, some of them, just pressure is just going to get to them. That only leaves you with a few more, and you just have to beat those guys. One of the things I’ve learned the past couple of years is you don’t need to win it. You don’t need to try and go win it. Just hang around. If you hang around, good things are going to happen.”
The idea makes sense. The PGA Championship has 20 club professionals who are unlikely to make the cut. The US Open has a couple dozen sectional qualifiers who are unlikely to play well. The Open has a variety of international players who haven’t frequented a major stage. At the Masters, first-timers pretty much have no chance. Koepka has a point. The majors are easier to win for someone who has done it compared to a regular PGA Tour event.
Koepka went further, explaining why he does better in the majors compared to week-to-week PGA Tour events.
“That’s what has caused me an issue in the regular PGA Tour events,” he said. “I’ve gone out on Saturday and tried to build a cushion. Maybe pressed a little bit too hard and gotten ahead of myself, where in the majors, I just stay in the moment. I never think one hole ahead. I’m not thinking about tomorrow, I’m not thinking about the next shot. I’m just thinking about what I’ve got to do right then and there. I kind of dummy it down and make it very simple, and I think that’s what helps me.”
So, with where he’s been in the last two years and where he could be going, what is Koepka’s goal in terms of a career major tally when it’s all said and done?
“I’ve got a number,” Koepka said. “I mean, I don’t see why you can’t get to double digits.”
Were Koepka to hit his target, he would be in rare company. In the context of the modern game, there are only three players who have won at least 10 majors: Jack Nicklaus (18), Tiger Woods (15) and Walter Hagen (11).