Brooks Koepka has utmost trust in Irish caddie Ricky Elliott
Double US Open champion is confident of competing at Carnoustie this weekend
Brooks Koepka plays from a bunker during a practice round ahead of the British Open at Carnoustie. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire
In the final round of the US Open last month, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson – close friends and gym buddies – barely spoke a word to each. When a title is on the line, all of a player’s focus is on the next shot . . . and the next shot . . . and the next shot, taking it one at a time.
But one man Koepka did speak to, and listen to, was his caddie Ricky Elliott. The man from Portrush – who spent time at home last week before heading on over to the east coast of Scotland is his trusted wingman.
Koepka – who successfully defended his US Open title on a Shinnecock Hills course that was akin to crazy golf in Pirate’s Cove – will again rely heavily on his bagman in this latest quest to add a Claret Jug to his display cabinet.
“Every decision I make is bounced off my caddie. Everything we do on the golf course, it’s a decision I might make; or sometimes he has got to pull the reins back and be like, ‘listen, you need to hit the centre of the green, there’s no need to go at this flag’. And he’ll kind of exaggerate it a little bit how bad it’s going to be if I go at the flag, stuff like that,” said Koepka of the player-caddie dialogue.
Koepka added: “It’s a team effort. Everyone’s grinding, trying to make sure I am playing the best I can, to have a good game plan and attack the golf course the way I should be. And once it comes Thursday, it is just me and Ricky. That’s it, the only two people who can do anything. As long as I have got a good game plan, I should be all right.”
The 28-year-old American has previously won in Scotland. That was back in 2013 in the Scottish Hydro Challenge on the Challenge Tour, the secondary circuit in Europe. He has come a long way since those days, now ranked fourth in the world and with two Majors to his name.
Koepka missed 16 weeks of the season earlier in the year due to a partially torn tendon in his left wrist, which included missing the Masters. But he hit the ground running on his return and hasn’t stopped. In fact, he is facing into an intensive upcoming schedule that will see him play 10 of 11 weeks.
Although he has a reputation as a bomber, Koepka has worked hard on his short game and is one of the best putters statistically on tour. “I’ve always been one of the best putters, I just don’t think many people know that. They get infatuated with distance and only see that. I’m a good putter. My short game’s come a long way in the last few years, it’s gotten tremendously better from where it was. I’m always a good iron player, fairly aggressive sometimes. But in the Majors we tone it back, just hit centre of the greens and let the putter take over.”
He added: “I enjoy plotting my way around probably more than the bombers’ golf courses where you have got to think, be very cautious sometimes . . . . you’ve got to be very disciplined here, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”
And Koepka has only one target: to win! As he put it, “Right now, I’m focused just on winning. That’s the only thing I have got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot and just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you; you have this mindset where you just want to keep winning, it breeds confidence.”
Follow all of the action on our British Open liveblog from 8am Thursday morning and through all four days.