Brooks Koepka, the emperor (who) wears no clothes and, yes, is tied for the lead at East Lake

August 22, 2019
TOUR Championship - Round One

Sam Greenwood

ATLANTA — Welcome to Brooks Koepka’s world, where he’s a four-time major winner, the world’s best golfer and the barer of all. Literally.

On Wednesday night, Koepka released the first image of himself in the buff for ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue. The reaction from his peers a day later?

“I've been asked to do it before,” said Rickie Fowler. “It wasn't one of the things that I really wanted to do.

“I figured there would be some sort of hazing in the locker room afterwards. That's not the reason I didn't do it by any means or anything like that. It's all personal preference, personal choice on whether you do it or not. I think it takes some balls to do it, literally.”

Paul Casey?

“Have you ever seen me with my shirt off?” the Englishman said, puffing out his chest. “It's not bad.

“Would I? I could is the answer. Would I?”

But Brooks would and did.

What about you Rory McIlroy?

“I was asked in 2015, and I said no,” said McIlroy, who was on the cover of Men’s Health that same year, fully clothed. “It's just a little strange. So, no, not for me.

“You have to have a bit of confidence to get up there and do it in the first place, so good on him.”

Koepka does not lack confidence in anything, in case you didn’t notice.

A day and one head-to-toe black Nike outfit later, Koepka was playing like it, too, moving into a tie for the lead at the newly reconfigured Tour Championship, where he started the opening round three strokes back of leader Justin Thomas before ending the day tied atop the leader board after a three-under 67.

Of course he’s leading.

Koepka has been so good this year that Gary Woodland thought Koepka had won two majors instead of one in 2019, so why not win this week and take home the FedEx Cup and its $15 million first-place prize, too?

He’s on his way.

And Koepka doesn’t care if people don’t look the other way when it comes to his spread in the nude (the magazine and all the photos drop on Sept. 4).

“There were people playing the golf course, so they saw,” Koepka said of the photo shoot, which took place a few weeks before the Masters at The Floridian not far from Koepka’s home in South Florida.

His coach, Claude Harmon, was around the corner from the tee box where Koepka was swinging a golf club. A 460cc driver only hides so much, you know.

“I see Claude teaching this maybe 12-year-old kid, and his mom is just over here,” Koepka said. “I'm like, this is awkward. And Claude's peeking around the corner laughing.”

Koepka is the one doing the laughing these days.

When someone who’d bet on Koepka took a jab at him for playing poorly and said he should have tried harder at last week’s BMW Championship, suggesting that he stop playing and instead drive a truck, Koepka responded, “A Brinks truck?”

So what was his response to any potential criticism over posing nude for a magazine?

“I've basically given everybody a preview in a thong,” he said of a photo taken by his girlfriend Jena Sims that went viral when it hit Instagram last year. “It's one of those things where all these people that talk crap and whatever on social media, they don't have the balls to do it, and they wouldn't look that good.”

Who’s gonna argue with him?