Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Brooks Koepka withdraws from 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson field as absence continues ahead of PGA Championship

2018 and 2019 must seem like a lifetime ago for Brooks Koepka, who withdrew from the 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson field on Wednesday. Last seen missing the cut at the 2022 Masters, the four-time major champion will now head into next week’s PGA Championship at Southern Hills without additional competitive rounds under his belt.  

“I just practice before the majors. Regular tournaments, I don’t practice. If you’ve seen me on TV [at a regular PGA Tour event], that’s when I play golf,” said Koepka leading up to the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush. “That happens week in and week out. And majors I like to play the week before and find a rhythm, build a rhythm. I’m usually ready for majors.”

Koepka was a world-beater back then, winning his four major championships in a span of 23 months and knew when he arrived on site he would be a force to be reckoned with. He was cocky, brash and there was nothing his competition could do about it as his game almost always backed up his talk.

Koepka’s major finishes since 2017

Masters

T11

DNP

T2

T7

CUT

CUT

PGA Championship

T13

1

1

T29

T2

U.S. Open

1

1

2

DNP

T4

Open Championship

T6

T39

T4

NT

T6

Koepka’s last major triumph remains his PGA Championship victory at Bethpage Black in 2019. He limped home metaphorically that week and nearly squandered a seven-stroke lead on Sunday. While only metaphorical, his finish in New York may have been a sign of the actual physical ailments he had, and would later, endure.

The now 32-year-old’s injury history reads as long as a CVS receipt, and it continues to rack up charges. 2018 was the year of the wrist injury, and while it did nothing to slow him down, it did forbid him from playing in the Masters — a golden opportunity for a man who would go onto win two of the next three major championships.

The following year, Koepka had to undergo a stem cell procedure on his left knee due to a torn patella tendon and later developed a hip injury. In 2020, he missed the U.S. Open due to injury and had to watch his not-so-best-friend Bryson DeChambeau win from the sidelines.

2021 was even more bizarre than the prior two, as Koepka’s right knee (different from before) began to bother him, citing it as the cause for his withdrawal from the Players Championship in March. After missing the cut in the Masters, it was here in McKinney, Texas, at the AT&T Byron Nelson where Koepka was able to find something in his game. He ultimately missed the cut at TPC Craig Ranch, but the swing looked fluid, the knee made improvements, and the Spiderman-like green-reading process became more comfortable.

The following week at Kiawah Island, Koepka finished runner-up to Phil Mickelson in the PGA Championship in one even he would admit was his for the taking. His fifth major was instead Mickelson’s sixth, and after additional contention runs at the U.S. Open and Open Championship to cap off his summer, 2022 felt like the time for Koepka to get back to his winning ways.

Backing out of the AT&T Byron Nelson on Wednesday, Koepka won’t enjoy the luxury of building a rhythm and playing the week before a major championship as he normally does. No reason was given for his withdrawal, but there are some speculating yet another injury as the cause.

So this begs the question: What Brooks Koepka will we get at Southern Hills? Will we see the Koepka of old who possessed the largest chip on his shoulder not even Hercules could bear and the lone name players feared on the leaderboard? Or will we see the Koepka who still talks the talk but is simply incapable of walking the walk?

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