Koepka says knee is improving, eager to defend WGC title

Koepka says knee is improving, eager to defend WGC title

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Brooks Koepka loves TPC Southwind, and he’s hoping for the same boost he got here a year ago when he won the first World Golf Championship.

Last year, Koepka only felt a bit ill.

This year, the man who won three times last year, including a major, is trying to defend his FedEx St. Jude Invitational title with an injured left knee that’s affecting his swing because he’s hesitant to shift his weight.

“I feel like I’m getting better and better every day,” Kopeka said Wednesday.

“Last week I saw signs of it, made some adjustments this weekend as far as just seeing how scared I was to get on my left side. … You can battle through it all the time, but still, pain will make you adjust really quickly, and just seeing where I was made a few adjustments in my setup just to kind of help ease it and help get my body through that.”

Koepka reinjured his left knee in South Korea at the CJ Cup last October and has a partially torn patella tendon. He’s holding off surgery unless the tear worsens.

“We’ll see when my season ends and go get stem cell again most likely and figure it out from there,” Koepka said.

His victory here last year was his seventh on the PGA Tour and most recent. Koepka finished seventh at the RBC Heritage in June, his only top 10 since the tour returned from its shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. He’s missed the cut twice in his last three events and tied for 62nd at the Memorial. Ranked No. 1 in the world at the beginning of the year, he has slipped to sixth.

After missing the cut last week at the 3M Open, Koepka worked with both British-based coach Pete Cowen and Claude Harmon to fine-tune his game. Koepka said having Cowen watch him hit balls in person and not on video was much more helpful.

“It was nice to see him, work on some things,” Kopeka said. “Just good to have. That’s why I have Claude and Pete there, to bounce ideas off of and see where you’re at. They’re both saying the same thing. And I think this weekend, if there was ever a good cut to miss, I think it was that one.”

Koepka’s struggles and achy knee haven’t affected his confidence as he prepares to defend his title this week and again next week at the rescheduled PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

“I’m defending, aren’t I?” Koepka said.

Koepka’s competitors are showing much more consistent form. Jon Rahm will make his debut at No. 1 in the world after winning the Memorial two weeks ago. The 78-player field features the world’s top eight players and 27 of the top 30.

Second-ranked Rory McIlroy, who played in the final group with Koepka last year, and Justin Thomas could reclaim the No. 1 spot by winning.

“I just want to put four solid rounds together,” McIlroy said. “I haven’t really done that since coming back out of the lockdown. And if I do put four solid rounds together, then I know I’ll have a chance to win.”

Daniel Berger, who won at TPC Southwind in 2016 and 2017 before the tournament became a World Golf Championship, is back after failing to qualify last year. Henrik Stenson will be making his first start since the PGA Tour returned in June. Viktor Hovland of Norway will be making his first start at a WGC after stringing together five straight top-25 finishes.

Michael Thompson won the 3M Open last week for his first victory in seven years, getting him into the Memphis field. His family was travelling to Memphis on Wednesday for a belated victory celebration.

“So we’re going to celebrate tonight but with some cupcakes with my son,” Thompson said. “He’s all excited about that.”

Though plans for limited fans at TPC Southwind were cancelled earlier this month, the tour is allowing players to bring a wife or significant other. Tournaments and title sponsors also will be allowed to have no more than 50 guests per day and limited to specific areas, like hospitality tents or a room in the clubhouse.

TPC Southwind also had its bunkers renovated with a couple erased and others added. The par-5 third hole, with a lake down the right side of the fairway, has been lengthened by 25 yards. The par-70 course now measures 7,277 yards.

___

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/apf-Golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Teresa M. Walker, The Associated Press

Golf

Just Posted

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Alberta reports 100 new cases of COVID-19

The Central zone sits at 218 active cases

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

Most Read