PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL – Brooks Koepka, a West Palm Beach product who has won the past two United States Opens, the 2018 PGA Championship and is the reigning PGA TOUR Player of the Year, has committed to play in the 2019 Honda Classic, a PGA TOUR event which will be held February 25-March 3 at PGA National Resort & Spa.
Koepka, who is 28 and the No. 2 player in the Official World Golf Ranking after a short time at No. 1, has been consistently dominant on the international stage for two years now, conquering a wrist problem early last year that temporarily slowed his momentum.
He is only the seventh man to win back-to-back U.S. Open titles and just the fifth to win the Open and the PGA in the same year. Not since Tiger Woods won four majors in a row in 2000 and 2001 has a golfer knocked off major wins at this kind of rate (three of the past six).
The accomplishments were absolutely amazing when you consider the fear and uncertainty that the partially-torn tendon injury created early last year as it kept him from playing for three months including at the 2018 Honda Classic.
"Guys, basically, it’s the end of their career with the injury. The unknown isn’t fun," Koepka said. "To sit back and really hope to be able to play again.....
"So just to be out playing was great, and then to do what I did was kind of, it’s kind of wild to think about it.”
Koepka was on the fast track to success ever since he starred at West Palm Beach's Cardinal Newman High and became a three-time All American at Florida State University. He turned pro in the summer of 2012 and started his career on the European Challenge Tour, where he won four times before advancing to the European Tour.
"Going over there was a bunch of fun. It's the best time I've ever had playing golf," Koepka said. "You become more of a well-rounded player playing different places, having to travel, doing that sort of thing. I felt like I was good enough to be out here (on the PGA TOUR) when I was there. It's just hard to get out here. I felt like if I just did what I was supposed to do and kind of dug deep and stayed patient that I was going to find a way. Luckily enough it was pretty quick."
Heading into the 2017 U.S. Open, Koepka had won more than $10 million on the PGA TOUR, but was aggressively looking for more individual tournament victories. He had seven other Top 10 finishes to go with the win in Phoenix in 2015 and seven more in 2016. So he was around the lead on a regular basis. But it was not close to enough.
“I just felt like I should be winning more,” Koepka said. “I don’t know why — I just couldn’t stand the fact that I had only won once.”
But at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills in 2017, everything simply came together and Koepka has not turned back since. His 72-hole total of 16-under 272 tied the tournament record for lowest total under par, which was set by Rory McIlroy at Congressional Country Club in 2011. He had six additional Top 10 performances during the year to go alongside the Open victory.
The wrist injury forced him to miss last year's Masters and it wasn't until the end of April that he was able to return to the Tour. He missed the cut in New Orleans and finished tied for 42nd at the Wells Fargo. But then everything came back. Koepka finished 11th in The Players Championship and then second in Fort Worth. He showed up at Shinnecock Hills feeling confident that he could defend his Open title.
Things didn't look so great midway through the second round when Koepka was seven-over par. But he best survived ridiculously severe conditions on Saturday to get back into it. Then he pulled away from a three-way tie with three birdies in five holes Sunday to close with a two-under 68 and a one-shot victory. He was the first repeat U.S. Open champ in 29 years.
At the PGA at Bellerive, Koepka held off a charging Tiger Woods to win by two strokes.
Then in October, he started the 2018-19 season with a victory at the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in South Korea. That victory allowed him to enter 2019 as the No. 1 player in the world, a position he and Justin Rose have been sharing in recent weeks.
Koepka knows that to gain a strangehold on the top ranking, he will have to win more regular Tour events like The Honda. He credits his success in recent majors to a patient aggressive mindset and is looking to carry that over to his weekly schedule in 2019.
"You can't win until Sunday," he said. "So I have to be patient and just let things come.
"I feel like my game is in a good spot, and I feel like if I can build on everything I did last year, I'll be just fine. You know, the majors are obviously very important, but I want to try to win a few more regular events and kind of establish myself as probably one of the better players."
His internal drive makes the challenge of being patient greater than it seems on the surface. Now that he has had a taste of being ranked No. 1 in the world, it is something Koepka would like to experience for a longer period of time.
"It does mean a lot to me," Koepka said. "I think that's such a cool honor, to be the best player in the world. I don't take it lightly. It's something that, every day, I'm trying to get better and improve on that and I'd like to gain that lead.
"But you know, with Rosey (Justin Rose), he's playing so well. I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully squeak out a few W's.
Grounds tickets, Bear Trap tickets and other hospitality tickets and packages for the 2019 Honda Classic are on sale at thehondaclassic.com or by calling 1-844-8Honda8 (844-846-6328).