Brooks Koepka: From 156 To 80 To Maybe 35, And Pressure Is Going To Get To Some Of 35...

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Brooks Koepka did the math on how he sees a field and, well, you can see why he’s a regular contender these days in majors. The man is confident, as Dan Kilbridge notes for Golfweek in writing about the defending champion.

Here is the actual 2019 PGA Championship press conference transcript outlining his view of a major field:

Q. We've heard you say several times majors are the easiest to win; yet that seems too simple for complicated minds. What has led you to internalize this approach which clearly seems to be a winning approach?

BROOKS KOEPKA: The easiest way I can break it down is there's -- what is there, 140 --

JON DEVER: 156 in the field.

BROOKS KOEPKA: 156 in the field, so you figure at least 80 of them I'm just going to beat. From there, the other -- you figure about half of them won't play well from there, so you're down to about maybe 35. And then from 35, some of them just -- pressure is going to get to them. It only leaves you with a few more, and you've just got to beat those guys.

If you just hang around -- I think one of the big things that I've learned over the last few years is you don't need to win it, you don't have to try to go win it. Just hang around. If you hang around, good things are going to happen.

So I think that's what's kind of caused me an issue in the regular PGA TOUR events. 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. And I kind of dummy it down and make it very simple, and I think that's what helps me.

Koepka Explains Why He Escalated Chamblee Manspat; Admits To No Photoshop Skills

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Golf.com’s Dylan Dethier talks to Brooks Koepka about why the top golfer took to Twitter to post a photo of Brandel Chamblee sporting a clown’s nose after the Golf Channel commentator’s latest criticism of the three-time major winner.

During the Masters, Chamblee ripped Koepka for his recent weight loss by suggesting that the 29-year-old lost the weight for vanity reasons. It has been rumored that Koepka lost the weight ahead of an appearance in ESPN‘s The Body Issue later this year.

“He’s done it a lot, he’s always got an opinion on something,” Koepka said. “And I don’t really respond too much. I know he said a bunch of things at Augusta and I never responded, that’s not really my style.

“But there comes a point where you just don’t care, and like I said, a picture’s worth more than a thousand words.”

Koepka does admit the image came from a buddy in a group text exchange. I smell an opening for Brandel!

Meanwhile, the saga has generated debate about who can discuss and critically analyze careers and we discussed today on Morning Drive:

He Wins Majors, Photoshops Too: Brooks Koepka Ups Manspat With Chamblee

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You know Brooks Koepka is annoyed when he takes back control of his Twitter account from sponsors to post this jab at Brandel Chamblee, Golf Channel analyst and recent critic of the three-time major winner.

In the latest installment of Chamblee’s views of Koepka, he tells Jaime Diaz on their podcast that there are “likely two” players who can “hang” with the revitalized Tiger Woods. From Dylan Dethier’s Golf.com account:

“In the aggregate, you’d have Dustin and Rory who are the likely two who could hang with him,” he said. “Jon Rahm’s still got a lot to learn. His iron play’s not as sharp as it needs to be to be the best player in the world, and it forces him to have to pitch the ball…his pitching, generally speaking, is not as good as it needs to be. And Spieth’s game has fallen off. So it’s really only two players who could challenge him. 

“Irrespective of the world rankings, I think all of us know what we need to know without the world rankings telling us, and it’s Rory and it’s Dustin Johnson and it’s Tiger Woods, but Tiger’s simply not going to play enough to get the points that he needs to get.”

Koepka has won three majors over the previous two seasons and was in contention at the Masters again this year, finishing T2, one back of Woods.

In reply, Koepka posted this image of Chamblee with a retweet:

We will be discussing this and other weighty issues on Monday’s Morning Drive.

Though I will say for now that I think a few more layers taking some shine off the nose and adding a bit more dimensionality would suggest Koepka needs to quit his day job.

Bubba Breaks The CBD Barrier In Golf Despite Recent PGA Tour Warning About Such Products

Todd Kelly reports for Golfweek on Bubba Watson signing with cbdMD to push cannabidiol-based products to deal with a variety of issues. .

“I was taking the product, I love the product and for me, you know, it’s all about safety,” Watson said in an interview with The Street. “So for me, on a performance level, I got to have safety, I’ve got to [take] drug tests, I’ve got to do all these things and to protect myself and be able to play competitive golf.”

The news comes as the vaunted MarijuanaMoment.net reported a recent warning by the PGA Tour that CBD products containing THC will put players in violation of their policies and that some CBD products may contain levels putting the player in risk of suspension.

Full coverage from TheStreet.com on Watson’s announcement on the floor of the New York Stock Excxhange where the two-time Masters champion wore his best hoodie to announce the partnership.

Golf's Latest Embarrassing Association With Saudi Arabia...

The European Tour’s awful association with the Crown Prince and ensuing cash grab seemed like the worst possible partnership in modern professional sports. Particularly after other sports backed away from events in Saudi Arabia, or if you read about last week’s Saudi government led series of beheadings, including 16 and 17-year-old boys, yet another violation of international law and similar to recent atrocities green lit by the tour’s partner.

Continuing golf’s tone-deaf ways, struggling Ladies European Tour professional Carly Booth briefly launched an endorsement campaign for Saudi Arabia’s “different” place, to which she said she was honored (the posts have since been taken down after a brutal reaction).

Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch scolds Booth but highlights the even greater concern: what kind of representative would subject their player to this kind of endorsement and feel it’s the right move to make?

One can mount a defense for Booth, but it’s unflattering: devotion to her craft leaves little time to study geopolitics and human rights; women golfers, and particularly those in Europe, subsist on vapors so deals aren’t easily rejected, no matter how morally questionable the source.

But no exculpatory defense exists for the fatuous pillocks on her management team, who devised the deal, who displayed a mesmerizing disregard for the risk to her reputation, who presumably helped author the social posts, who thoroughly failed at their most basic function: they left their client looking like both a fool and a jerk.

Too often players are put in odd positions by those taking 10%, but this one takes the cake for bad advice topped off by terrible timing.

Did Brooks Koepka Slim Down For A Magazine Shoot?

It’s a question on inquiring minds given that he won two majors last year: why did Brooks Koepka go on a diet? When first mentioned, it sounded like a health matter. But as Eamon Lynch notes in this wrap up of Koepka’s Masters press conference where Koepka revealed the recent end to a 1800-calorie-a-day diet, blood-testing and no gym time has his energy levels coming back.

The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year attributes that to some minor health issues that began at the Players last month. “Just had a bunch of blood work and trying to figure out what was going on.  The diet I was on was probably not the best,” Koepka admitted. “I was like 1,800 calories a day.  I mean, you’re not going to be in the best physical shape at that point. You look at somebody like Michael Phelps or somebody like that eating 6,000 or 7,000 calories by lunch time. But I wanted to do it and try to lose some weight, and maybe went about it a little too aggressively for just a long period of time and the intensity of what I was doing.”

One possible reason for Koepka’s intense effort to get lean: according to reports, the famously buff golfer will appear in the buff in ESPN’s Body Issue, which will be released later this summer.

Golfers know the history of the sport has seen players transform their bodies in short time with poor results, but as Brandel Chamblee notes last night on Live From, this one may be unprecedented in sports history given Koepka’s recent form.

Details Emerge From Golf's Equivalent To The Camp David Accords: Kuchar, El Tucan Clear Air Over Orange Juice

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Michael Bamberger scored the exclusive details of last month’s secret reunion between Matt Kuchar and his Mayakoba Classic-winning fill-in caddie El Tucan to settle any misunderstanding over Moochgate.

Not only has he been paid, Ortiz and Kuchar met in a clubhouse dining room in late February, when the Tour went to Mexico City for a World Golf Championship event. Over a 40-minute glass of morning orange juice on Feb. 23, the Saturday of the tournament, each apologized to the other, Ortiz said in a recent phone interview and through an interpreter.

“Matt said, ‘Hey, David, how are you?’” Ortiz said. “I apologized for the [difficulty] the situation created. I told him it was never my intention to embarrass him, but I felt eventually I had to tell the truth. Matt also offered an apology. He said it was all a misunderstanding. He asked me how my family was. He showed me a picture of his family and a video of a hole-in-one made by one of his sons.”

Ortiz said there were four people at the breakfast table, including a sports psychologist “who is very close to Matt.”

And a good time was had by all!

Ticket On The Teaching Titanic? David Leadbetter Officially Signs On To Join Team Patrick Reed

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How long before Ricky Bobby grows bored with David Leadbetter’s ideas remains to be seen, but the legendary instructor has officially signed up for Team Patrick Reed just two weeks shy of the 2018 Masters champion’s title defense.

Tim Rosaforte Tweeted the news and received word from Reed spokesman, CEO and spouse, Justine Reed: “We are very proud to announce that Mr. David Leadbetter will be joining our team and we all look forward to working with him.”

This may be a Leadbetter first: reporting to the wife of the player he’s coaching.

Rosaforte’s Tweets:


Brooks Koepka Losing Weight And Losing Distance...

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The winner of two majors last year admitted at The Players he is out of sorts after intensifying training and implementing diet restrictions, losing 22 pounds and with it, distance.

From Ryan Lavner’s GolfChannel.com report:

“When you go from 212 pounds to 190, there’s not as much weight going forward through the ball,” he said. “I don’t have as much feel. I just feel out of sorts.”

Koepka says the sacrifice has been worth it, that it’s “only four months of my career.”

14-Year-Old Tied For Symetra Tour Lead With One Round To Go...

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Alexa Pano, 14, is tied for the lead at -8 heading into the Symetra Tour’s SKYiGOLF Championship’s final round Sunday.

Pano is in the field for the upcoming Augusta National Women’s Amateur and has played one LPGA event when she was 11 and in other Symetra events. Still…a 14-year-old with a chance to win on the AAA circuit for Women’s golf?

For Immediate Release:

ALEXA PANO, 14, CHASING HISTORY AT SKYiGOLF Championship

NORTH PORT, Fla. (March 9, 2019) – Asked if she ever expected to be tied for the lead in a professional golf tournament with only 18 holes left to play, 14-year-old amateur Alexa Pano of Lake Worth, Fla., didn’t hesitate to answer.

“Yes, sir,” she politely told a reporter. “That’s why I played in the tournament.”

At the inaugural $250,000 SKYiGOLF Championship, Pano is on the brink of history, trying to become the youngest player ever to win a Symetra Tour event. Hannah O’Sullivan, who now plays college golf at Duke, was 16 years old when she won the 2015 Gateway Classic in Arizona.

The “youngest” thing is something that the uber-talented Pano has grown accustomed to hearing, though on Saturday at Charlotte Harbor National she said she hadn’t heard it in a while.

“It’s something I’m kind of used to it. Playing up in events a lot, I’d hear ‘youngest person ever’ so often,” she said. “It’s actually kind of gone away from me. Now that I’m 14, I’m kind of ‘old’ and can’t win the ‘youngest’ thing. But here we are again.”

JT Addresses The USGA Trolling Him On Twitter: “It is unfortunate. It just was — it really hurt me.”

Justin Thomas after the Honda Classic final round.

Justin Thomas after the Honda Classic final round.

By my math the two sides should be even. Justin Thomas isn’t so sure.

Even though JT has trolled the USGA on Twitter with a "growthegame” hashtag, the organization’s surprise call-out of the former Walker Cupper over his new rules comments appears to have taken him by surprise. And shock. And making a claim that the USGA Tweet was not accurate.

From Dan Kilbridge’s Golfweek report at the Honda:

“It was a little shocking. It was a little upsetting just because it was inaccurate,” Thomas said Sunday of the USGA’s claims. “I haven’t canceled anything, especially any meetings. But it is what it is, and all I want is the best for the game of golf and the best for the sport, and that’s what we’re going to continue to try to communicate with each other to get that.

“It is unfortunate. It just was — it really hurt me.”

The full video of Thomas’s post round comments.

The USGA’s John Bodenhammer talked to Morning Drive to clarify the organization’s concerns and unlike the Tweet, sounded more concerned about repairing damage and preventing a war of (social media) words.

“It’s very clear there is a certain level of discomfort with some Tour players, certainly not all, and we are working to address that with certain rules,” Bodenhamer said. “We know we have more work to do.

Players were buzzing about the USGA pushback, Randall Mell noted in quoting Jim Furyk:

On Golf Central, both Mark Rolfing and David Duval took issue with the USGA’s tactics though the outcome of more refined dialogue and maybe an end to some of the more excessive new rules commentary.

Brooks: "I feel I actually do have a voice and it will be heard.”

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Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge on Brooks Koepka admitting that he’s been holding back. But now, armed with three of the last seven majors, says he won’t be holding back.

“He wasn’t ever really looking for (attention),” caddie Ricky Elliot said. “It’s obviously come his way through his good play last year and he’s a regular guy. He’s going to answer a question honestly. He’s not out to get the attention. It’s coming his way now and he feels like he’s in a position where he has to take the game forward and voice his opinion because that’s what top players are supposed to do.”

Koepka was asked about it earlier this week and basically said we were getting a lot of Brooks Lite in previous media sessions. Now the back-to-back U.S. Open champ feels more comfortable bringing it in full.

“You’re actually probably getting the real me now,” Koepka said. “I think before I was just trying to be politically correct and not stir any bubbles, just kind of go on with things and be unnoticed. To be honest with you, I feel like now where I’ve put myself in the game, I’ve kind of established myself and I feel I actually do have a voice and it will be heard.”

Gasp! Bryson DeChambeau Still Watches DVD's

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There goes his millennial street cred!

Actually, the forward-thinking world No. 5 is trying to better teach his brain to be calm, focused and stress-free.

Clearly his DVD player was off last week or maybe he got bogged down working through studio screeners—it is LA where no one in the industry pays to see a nominee—but as Mike McAllister details for PGATour.com, DeChambeau is normally on the cutting edge of brain-training work.

Using his travel-sized Neuropeak Pro brain-training unit, DeChambeau pops in the DVD, then attaches a gold-plated silver EEG sensor to his head. The real-time data he receives monitors the peaks and valleys of his brain’s electrical current as the movie unfolds. DeChambeau’s goal is to avoid the spikes that occur at the most stressful, intense parts; he wants to keep his high beta and theta ratios inside a pre-determined range.

If the activity in his brain fires too high, the movie will immediately stop. Only when DeChambeau relaxes his brain – controlling his breathing, reducing his heart rate, focusing his mind to reach a calm state -- will the movie resume playing.

Maintaining a proper balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic states, flattening out his EEG reading to eliminate the highs and lows – that’s the end game.

I wonder how many kids will be sending this story to parents suggesting they need a Neuropeak Pro system and Amazon gift card in their lives?

Kuchar Digs In: It's A Social Media Issue, Won't Lose Sleep And Even Throws Steiny Under The Bus For Trying To Mop Up His Mess!

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Matt Kuchar spoke to GolfChannel.com’s Will Gray Wednesday at the Genesis Open and FedExCup leader, all-time leading money winner without a major who won last fall’s Mayakoaba event after a four-year winless drought with his “lucky charm” local caddie, is digging in.

Mooooooooooch!

Kuchar confirmed he paid “El Tucan” $5000 and the Golf.com report that his agent has since offered an additional $15,000 refused by Ortiz. And he’s not happy about that either. But more on that momentarily.

The graciousness ended fairly quicklky in the chat with Gray.

“I kind of feel like unfortunately some other people have got it in his head that he’s deserving something different than what we agreed upon,” Kuchar said.

He’s certainly correct that he paid $1000 more than they agreed upon, but given that it was Kuchar’s first win in __ years and that a winner’s bonus usually comes with the PGA Tour territory, he’s been blasted for not paying more.

“I ended up paying him $5,000 and I thought that was more than what we agreed upon,” Kuchar said. “I kind of think, if he had the chance to do it over again, same exact deal, that he’d say yes again.”

Good to see he learns from his mistakes!. And that he has shrewd sounding boards all around!

This may be the fatal quote…

“It’s done. Listen, I feel like I was fair and good,” he said. “You can’t make everybody happy. You’re not going to buy people’s ability to be OK with you, and this seems to be a social media issue more than anything. I think it shouldn’t be, knowing that there was a complete, agreed-upon deal that not only did I meet but exceeded.

“So I certainly don’t lose sleep over this. This is something that I’m quite happy with, and I was really happy for him to have a great week and make a good sum of money. Making $5,000 is a great week."

Glad he’s not losing sleep. But in digging in, he’s certainly losing fans and at some point, endorsement income built on a “good guy” image.

Another interview with Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger comes off even worse, suggesting “someone got in his ear”, referring to El Tucan, and says the attempt to make a payment was the idea of his agent. But he didn’t exactly approve of the idea.

Kuchar seemed slightly embarrassed that the additional sum had been offered, as he felt his financial obligation to Ortiz was complete. Asked how it came to be that the additional sum was offered, Kuchar said, “That was the agency.” He was referring to Excel Sports Management, which represents him. Kuchar’s agent there is Mark Steinberg, who also represents Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

And in case those legendary cheapskate cred wasn’t strong enough…

Kuchar smiled and said, “It’s not coming out of Steinberg’s pocket.” In other words, Kuchar would be paying. He said the additional proffered payment was Steinberg’s effort at damage control.

Given that when you start typing Matt Kuchar into the Google Machine “Matt Kuchar El Tucan” pops up, the issue will, fairly or not, define his career.

Sergio Says "Emotional, Personal news" Played Role In Petulant Saudi Arabia Showing

We all certainly wish the best for anyone in the sport receiving bad news in the middle of a tournament, though nearly two weeks after a bunker meltdown and on-course vandalism of five-greens, Sergio Garcia tells Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis that there was more to his rough week in Saudi Arabia.

From Rex Hoggard’s report on the Golf Central interview:

“I received some very emotional, personal news earlier that week that didn’t help. It was in the back of my mind. As I became frustrated on the course everything erupted,” Garcia told Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis on Wednesday ahead of the Genesis Open.

Garcia didn’t go into detail about the personal news but said he spent last week reflecting on his behavior at the European Tour event, where he damaged several greens and was disqualified for what officials deemed “serious misconduct.”

“It was a mix of some emotional and personal things going on and a little frustration with the greens,” said Garcia, who also issued an apology on Tuesday via social media.

The full interview aired on Golf Central and will be posted online.

AP’s Doug Ferguson also talked to Garcia and several of his peers. Garcia admitted he agreed with Brooks Koepka’s recent assessment and also took hits from Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott.

This from McIlroy:

"It doesn't matter where you're from. It's not acceptable," McIlroy said. "If you've got stuff bothering you, let the course be your sanctuary. I've had to deal with that in the past."

Sergio: "I’m focused on working hard to channel that emotion the correct way and to be the best me"

In anticipation of his 2019 PGA Tour debut, Sergio Garcia has posted an apology for his actions in Saudi Arabia, that included a bunker tantrum for the ages and vandalism to the Royal Greens course, leading to disqualification.

Happy to be in my first @pgatour event of the season and have my brother on the bag again this year. I’ve obviously had some time to reflect, and want to again say I’m sorry to my fans and fellow competitors. What happened is not an example I want to set, and it's not who I truly am. I am an emotional player and while I believe that's one of my biggest strengths, it's also one of my biggest flaws. I’m focused on working hard to channel that emotion the correct way and to be the best me, learn from it and move forward. Thanks for all the support.

Tony Jacklin: Sergio Deserves A Suspension, Made Fool Of Himself, Needs Break From The Game

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Tony Jimenez with a Daily Express story after talking with English great and former Ryder Cup captain Tony Jacklin about Sergio Garcia’s antics last week in Saudi Arabia.

“It was worthy of more than disqualification. I’d have banned him. Damaging greens on a golf course is an offence that deserves a suspension.

“The European Tour have said the incident is over and it’s time to move on. Well, if he’s not going to be banned, then I’d like to see him take a self-imposed break from the game.

“I think he needs time to realise how fortunate he is, at 39, to have everything money can buy, a young family and everything to be grateful for,” said Jacklin, the most successful captain in European Ryder Cup history and winner of the 1969 Open and 1970 US Open.

“To see his frustration spill over the way it did last week shows he’s not in a well-balanced state of mind. There seems to be an anger within him and golf is a game you can’t play angry.”

He will and the European Tour will not discourage it even if time off is in Garcia’s best interest.

To recap, Garcia vandalized greens, leaving damage behind for other players to deal with. He threw a bunker hissy fit for the ages over a bad rake job the day prior. European Tour Chief Keith Pelley says the matter is closed.

Garcia is set to play in Los Angeles next week.

The Fisherman Is Ready For His Monterey Peninsula Debut!

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Hosung Choi has got an A-list partner in actor Chris O’Donnell and a pairing with Jerry Kelly and Aaron Rodgers for three days as Rodgers had hoped, including Saturday at Pebble Beach. (Full times and TV listings here.)

Choi’s already got a logo, a following, haters and who knows what else. But the 45-year-old has no plans to change his swing, writes Steve DiMeglio. Shoot, maybe by Saturday Peter Kostis will even have seen him swing and might have his first humorous observation since the mid-90s when Frank Chirkinian fed him a line!

While some pretty big PGA Tour names have arrived and some intriguing pro-am names are in town too, Choi adds a grace levity that will undoubtedly be squashed when Bill Murray comes into camera view.

Here is Choi, world 194, teeing off the 18th at Pebble Beach:

Brooks On Sergio's Meltdown: “To act like a child out there is not cool."

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As the European Tour shields Sergio Garcia from the punishment he deserves for vandalizing the field of play a day after a childish bunker tantrum (also to damage playing surfaces he found improperly groomed to his standards), he’s been called out by last year’s two-time major winner Brooks Koepka.

Appearing on the Playing Through podcast, worth a listen to hear the full context and all of his comments, the disdain in Koepka’s voice as well as his defense of course conditions only reinforces just how desperately Garcia needs time off.

From GolfDigest.com’s Brian Wacker, co-host of the pod, with just one of Koepka’s quotes:

“Ugh, it's frustrating as a player to see, to act like that, to disrespect everybody,” said Koepka, who was playing two groups in front of the former Masters champion but didn’t know what happened until afterward. “To act like a child out there is not cool. It's not setting a good example and it's not cool to us, showing us no respect or anybody else.”

Matt Adams and I discussed where Garcia’s antics fall in the pantheon of scandalous on-field acts during today’s Golf Central Alternate Shot (middle topic).