PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Before late Sunday morning, the most impactful swing in Brooks Koepka’s week was one he did not make. He reinjured his ailing left wrist on the range Wednesday when he abruptly stopped his powerful motion because someone suddenly drove a cart right in front of him.
He was a question mark even to start the tournament on Thursday, and said Saturday that the wrist still was sore. But he sure had a healthy finish. He sank a 208-yard 6-iron shot for a double-eagle 2 on the par-5 16th Sunday and went on to tie the TPC Sawgrass course record with a 9-under-par 63. He finished The Players at 11 under.
“It feels better after a 63,” the U.S. Open champion said when he was asked about his condition. He made birdie 2 on the island-green 17th hole and had a good chance to break the record with a 12-foot downhill putt on the 18th. The ball caught a piece of the hole and spun out.
“I thought I made it,” he said. “I hit that putt in practice and it always seems to break a little more than you think. I hit a great putt. I’m not going to lie, I knew it was for the course record, but sometimes you hit a good putt and it doesn’t go in.”
Still, he was fine with it, considering he had missed 15 weeks (including the Masters) after having suffered a partial tear in the ECU tendon late last year. He gave himself reason for optimism heading toward the defense of his Open title at Shinnecock Hills next month (he will visit a week before the tournament).
Plus, he did it in front of his mom, Denise Jakows. Like many other players, he wore a shirt that was a shade of pink to honor Mother’s Day and to call attention to the battle against breast cancer.
“It has actually been a great day,” said Jakows, a breast cancer survivor. “No big plans, it’s just a normal day for us. I’m pretty easygoing, we don’t have to do a lot of bells and flourishes. I just enjoy seeing him and being with him.”