Brooks Koepka feeling right at home, leads Workday at The Concession
BRADENTON, Fla. – It hasn’t taken Brooks Koepka very long to feel right at home at The Concession. Try one day, two tops. While Koepka (...)
BRADENTON, Fla. – It hasn’t taken Brooks Koepka very long to feel right at home at The Concession.
Try one day, two tops.
While Koepka and the lion’s share of the field had never seen the golf course before this week’s World Golf Championships-Workday Championship, he wasn’t thrown a bit. The former world No. 1 and four-time major champion tacked on a 6-under-par 66 Friday to his opening 67 and took a one-stroke lead through 36 holes at 11 under.
“It’s just a typical south Florida golf course,” said Koepka, comparing it to The Bear’s Club, The Medalist, The Floridian, the courses he plays near his home. “Those little run‑off areas around the green, every Florida course seems to have them. You can get out of position real quick and kind of short‑side yourself and you’re not far off a good shot. All the courses are kind of the same.
“I feel like if I’ve had good numbers this week, ball‑striking it really well where I feel like I can get it close and can take advantage of those good numbers. I’ve had a good game plan. Doesn’t matter what the wind is, you can still kind of put it in the same spot. I don’t hit that many drivers around here, a lot of 3‑woods and just try to put it in the fairway.”
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Koepka leads a trio of golfers at 10 under – Cameron Smith (66), Billy Horschel (67) and Collin Morikawa (64).
Tony Finau, who has 37 top-10s since he won his lone PGA Tour title in 2016, shot 67 to move to 9 under, where he’s joined by Webb Simpson (69) and Matthew Fitzpatrick (69).
Defending champion Patrick Reed (68) and Kevin Kisner (69) are at 8 under.
While Koepka made 112 feet of putts in the first round, he canned 67 feet worth of putts in the second round. That’s because he was hitting the ball closer to the hole, especially in a three-hole stretch where he scored from seven feet on the 15th, five feet on the 16th and four feet on the 17th.
“To get real technical, just taking it a little more what feels inside and then kind of releasing the putter head as the downswing starts,” Koepka said of the tweaks he’s made to his putting stroke. “If it goes straight back, it gets a little shut.
“The change has been good and I like where it’s at.”
He likes how his body is feeling, too. Koepka is healthy again after spending much of the fall of 2019 and most of 2020 battling knee and hip injuries, and he won earlier this year in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
“Once my body was right, it was only a matter of time before my swing kind of came into, I don’t know, came into a groove I guess you could say,” he said. “In December it finally was like it started to click, so I put in the work, it’s just now I’m starting to see it.”
Morikawa, the reigning PGA champ, saw nine birdies on his scorecard as he and Bryson DeChambeau have shot the lowest round – 64 – of the week.
“I just made some putts,” Morikawa said. “I worked a lot on my chipping, talked to Paul Azinger a little bit before this week and that feels really good and that’s what’s kind of kept me back, that’s what made me have a bunch of six, eight‑footers. And to finally feel confident if I do miss a green that I can get up and down, it’s a lot of confidence.
“My putting has never felt this good and whether I make or miss putts, knowing that my stroke is good, line‑wise, tempo, that’s all that matters.”
While Finau has yet to earn win No. 2 on the PGA Tour, he’s not discouraged about all his near misses. He’s finished runner-up in his last three starts.
“Every year I just try and get better and I feel like I’ve done that again this year,” Finau said. “I think experience has been my biggest life teacher and I’ve been able to just use some of those experiences of just falling short to just keep me hungry and keep working. I’ve worked extremely hard on my game and it’s nice to see some success early in the year.”