While many top players are resting up in advance of next week’s PGA Championship, the man who will defend his title at Bethpage is ready to get back to work.
Brooks Koepka headlines the field this week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, the only player ranked inside the top 15 in the world to tee it up at Trinity Forest in Dallas. Koepka lost in a playoff to Sergio Garcia at this event in 2016, when it was held across town at Las Colinas, but this week marks his debut appearance on the Coore-Crenshaw layout that will host the event for the second straight year.
Koepka teamed with his brother, Chase, at last month’s Zurich Classic, but this week will mark his first individual start since a runner-up finish at the Masters. Having won three of the last eight majors, Koepka has developed a game plan for attacking the biggest events, with playing the week before a large part of his preparation.
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“I usually play the week before a major. I think Augusta is the only one I don’t do it,” Koepka told reporters. “The rest of them I like to play the week before. You don’t need to play that great.”
The stats bear out Koepka’s assertion. He has played the week before each of his three major wins, finishing T-37 in Memphis before his 2017 U.S. Open win at Erin Hills and T-30 at the same event before last year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock. Prior to the 2018 PGA Championship, he finished alone in fifth place at Firestone.
Koepka has another opportunity to ready himself for a major, albeit on a course he had never played before prior to his Tuesday morning press conference.
“I like building a little bit of rhythm, finding your game, figuring out how to score, to manage your game. It’s just something, it’s worked for me,” Koepka said. “I think we’ve looked at the stats and usually my second week out is my best week. So I’m trying to make those for the majors.”