After talking the talk and failing to back it up with his play during the final round of the PGA Championship, Brooks Koepka has a few words he would like to have back.
Koepka was within reach of three straight PGA titles and a piece of history last week at TPC Harding Park, where he started the final round two shots off the lead of Dustin Johnson. But he drew criticism for some brash words following the third round, where he put the target on his former friend and seemingly downplayed Johnson’s career accomplishments.
“A lot of guys on the leaderboard, I don’t think have won (a major), I guess DJ has only won one. I don’t know a lot of the other guys up there,” Koepka said.
Among those “other guys” were eventual champ Collin Morikawa and runner-up Paul Casey, both of whom started the final round alongside Koepka at 7 under. In speaking to Golfweek, Koepka shared that he regretted some of his word choice that may have been viewed as a “shot” at other players when his intent was to focus on Johnson.
“To be honest, when I’m looking at a leaderboard I’m never looking at who is behind me or tied with me. I only look ahead,” Koepka said. “I just genuinely didn’t know the guys at 8 and 7 (under). That part I regret and I wish I had used different words because I didn’t pay enough attention to who was under Dustin, because he was my main focus.”
Those efforts quickly went awry for Koepka in San Francisco, where he ballooned to a final-round 74 that beat only one other player in the field and dropped him into a T-29 finish. Koepka confirmed that he hasn’t spoken to Johnson about his comments and doesn’t plan to, but he’s also willing to take the heat after following up a confident display behind the microphone with a poor performance inside the ropes.
“If you’re going to do that then you’ve got to back it up, and last week I didn’t back it up,” Koepka said. “I’m OK with the repercussions of that. I’ve got thick skin. I can handle it.”
Koepka was also asked about the reaction to his comments from Rory McIlroy, who felt Koepka may have been trying to play “mind games” with comments the Ulsterman “certainly wouldn’t say.” McIlroy also pointed out that while Koepka has the edge in majors, Johnson’s 21-win total is three times greater.
“When I’m talking, it’s always truthful. And Rory didn’t say anything that was untrue,” Koepka said. “He was completely truthful and I have no problem with it. I didn’t see it as a jab. My comment wasn’t either, I wasn’t really going after the guy.”
Koepka will look to rebound this week at the Wyndham Championship, where he’ll be teeing it up for the sixth week in a row in an effort to bolster his playoff chances.