Brooks Koepka withdrew from the 2019 US Presidents Cup team on Nov. 20, stepping aside to recover from a knee injury which forced him to withdraw from the 2019 CJ Cup in October in South Korea.
US captain Tiger Woods has selected Rickie Fowler to replace Koepka on the 12-man team headed to Royal Melbourne in Australia in December.
“Today, I am announcing my withdrawal from the US Presidents Cup Team because of my knee injury," Koepka said in a release. "I notified Captain Tiger Woods that despite constant medical care and rehab, I am not able to play golf at this time. I consider it to be a high honor to be part of the 2019 team and I regret not being able to compete.”
Koepka said in his season debut in Las Vegas that he had undergone knee surgery during his brief offseason to repair a partially torn patella tendon in his left knee. The surgery was done the Monday after the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
“I was watching it on the screen as they were doing it and it was probably one of the most painful things,” he said. “I was screaming when they did it.”
Koepka rehabbed for four weeks but a slip on wet concrete in South Korea aggravated the injury.
Fowler was the first man out of the four wild-card picks Woods announced to round out his American team. Woods chose Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Gary Woodland and himself with those four initial picks. In announcing the selections, Woods said Fowler was the toughest player to exclude from the team.
"I think the toughest call to make was the closest to making the team is Rickie," Woods said Nov. 7. "That was a tough phone call. Rickie's a good friend of mine and I've known him for a long time. Kept it short and quick. No reason to make it a lengthy conversation. He's obviously going to be very disappointed by it. I've been on that side. I've been there when the captain didn't choose me, and I get it. It's not easy.
"But Rickie is a hell of a player and he's going to start winning tournaments here. He's fresh off of his new wedding his bride and honeymoon and he'll be focused and he'll start winning tournaments."
With Koepka needing to exit the team, it makes sense for Woods to turn to his first man out to make the team whole. Fowler is pleased to be part of the team.
“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.”
The Americans head to Royal Melbourne having lost just once in the history of the Presidents Cup, at the same venue in 1998. The Americans nearly won the 2017 competition at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey on the third of four days, a match away from rendering the final 12 singles matches on Sunday moot.