Discouraged by injuries that were derailing his career, Brooks Koepka hopes he's back on track after LIV Golf win
Brooks Koepka was one of the headliners coming to LIV Golf over the summer—a four-time major winner still in his prime at just age 32—but he hadn’t necessarily played like one since joining the upstart Saudi-backed circuit. In his first four starts, he had finished no better than a T-11 until a week ago in Bangkok, when he tied for eighth and began to feel a little more like the player who was once World No. 1.
The chance to play again quickly worked to his advantage as he took the positive momentum with him into this week’s LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah and walked off with his first victory of any kind since the 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open on the PGA Tour.
“I think last week was kind of a turning point for me,” Koepka said on Friday after shooting an opening-round 62. “This is the first time I've played back-to-back weeks since February. So tough to build a rhythm. I could see it coming. I'm very pleased with it, pleased with last week, and you know, hopefully just put together two more good rounds.
He did with a second-round 67 that had him just one off the lead of Peter Uihlein entering the final round. On Sunday, Koepka shot a closing one-under 69 to get to 12-under 198 at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, tying him Uihlein after 54 holes.
The duo played the par-5 18th three times, the first two with each making a birdie. The third time, Uihlein bladed his third shot from a greenside bunker over the green into the water, setting up Koepka with the chance to two-putt from 12 feet for the victory. He only needed one, claiming the $4 million first-place prize money payout and some satisfaction.
“The last two years haven’t been fun. It’s been a long road,” Koepka said.
Koepka was alluding to various injuries that at times looked to put his future in doubt. In August 2019, Koepka tore the patella tendon in his left knee and had stem cell treatment in hopes of repairing it. He reinjured the knee that fall well he slipped walking at the CJ Cup, sidelining him for three months and forcing him to skip the Presidents Cup. Compensating for the injury as he returned to play in 2020, he suffered a labrum injury in his left hip.
Then in March 2021, shortly after the win in Phoenix, Koepka dislocated his right knee cap and tore his patella tendon. He underwent surgery and came back to play in the Masters that April, but his game was off throughout the rest of the season, his results suggesting he’d likely come back too soon.
It wasn’t until this year that Koepka said he started to truly feel healthy again, yet his game still wasn’t producing the results he desired, falling to No. 33 in the World Ranking. After signing with LIV Golf in June for a reported $100 million, Koepka made a call to Claude Harmon III, his former teacher who he has split up with in January 2021, to see about working together again.
“We got the band back together literally a couple months ago,” Koepka joked, reuniting with Harmon and working still with Pete Cowen.
Koepka acknowledged that his right knee will likely present lingering long-term issues—“I mean, eventually I'm going to have to have knee replacement in a few years.”—but for now then he’s grateful for the chance to be playing again.
“I didn't know if my career was over for a half second. I told Claude that I wasn't sure if I was going to play. It's nice to be able to come back and to be able to win."