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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The external wall of the Bentley Post Office was destroyed when a semi drove into the building, resulting is an estimated $50,000 in damages. (Photo Submitted)
Sylvan Lake RCMP lay charges in post office destruction

One suspect is in custody the second suspect has a warrant for his arrest

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province still hopes to bring the hospitalization number down before relaxing restrictions. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
14 new deaths, 366 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta

Province nearing 100K COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

The first pages of the book, by Kristy Walker.
Sylvan Lake author pens first children’s book about COVID-19

“The Coronavirus Isn’t Scary” by Kristy Walker teaches children to take care of themselves

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, MLA Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Devin Dreeshen. (Photo Submitted)
Ag Minister announces 20% off crop insurance for Alberta farmers

Dreeshen says this will support job creators and boosting rural economy during a difficult time

Mom’s Diner owner Wesley Langlois has joined a growing number of Alberta restaurants that are allowing sit-in dining despite public health restrictions. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Red Deer diner joins sit-down dining protest

Mom’s Diner has joined a growing list of Alberta restaurants flouting health restrictions

Young hockey players were out on Bentley Tuesday for a march to a support a return to sports. (Photo courtesy of Bobby McKinlay)
(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

In this undated image made from a video taken by the Duke of Sussex and posted on @SaveChildrenUK by the Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, shows the Duchess of Sussex reading the book “Duck! Rabbit!” to their son Archie who celebrates his first birthday on Wednesday May 6, 2020. The Canadian Paediatric Society is reminding families that the process of raising a reader starts from birth. (Duke of Sussex/@SaveChildrenUK)
Canadian Paediatric Society says raising a reader starts from birth

CPS says literacy is one of the strongest predictors of lifelong health outcomes

Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough responds to a question during a news conference Thursday August 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Easing rules for parental benefits created inequities among parents, documents say

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough’s office says the government will make any necessary changes

People walk along a pedestrianized zone of Sainte-Catherine street in Montreal, Monday, May 18, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. Newly released statistics point to a major drop in police-recorded crime during the first eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Crime down in first 8 months of pandemic, but mental health calls rise: StatCan

The agency says violent crimes such as assault dropped significantly

(Photo submitted)
Central Alberta researchers recognized for studies in agricultural sciences

Jessica Sperber of Ponoka and David MacTaggart of Lacombe awarded prestigious scholarship

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

Most Read