Different Strokes: Koepka will put knee to the test at Augusta

Spieth’s caddie earns his corn; Word of Mouth; By the Numbers; On this Day and more

Brooks Koepka will play in this week’s Masters less than three weeks after undergoing knee surgery. Photograph: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Brooks Koepka will play in this week’s Masters less than three weeks after undergoing knee surgery. Photograph: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

 

“If I knew I was going to finish second, I wouldn’t have shown up . . . I feel I can win. I’ll play, I’ll play, I’ll be all right.”

So, just less than three weeks since undergoing knee surgery, and six weeks since he last played a tournament, finishing runner-up at the WGC-Workday, Brooks Koepka will put his body to the test once more in the Masters at Augusta National where the undulating terrain will find any chink in his armour.

Koepka has endured more than his share of injuries in a career which so far has yielded four Major championships. He missed the 2018 Masters due to a wrist injury which needed surgical intervention and also missed last year’s US Open due to a left knee injury.

His most recent injury, to his right knee, resulted from a fall in which he dislocated his patella in his right knee and also suffered some ligament damage.

Koepka’s quick recovery from his latest surgery has come on the back of seven hours a day rehab sessions and he plans to limit practice to nine holes each day, while continuing to receive treatment to the knee.

“We’ve been building for this, now it’s about managing the hills and finding the flattest parts,” said Koepka, whose best finish at Augusta National was second in 2019.

Spieth’s caddie earns his corn

Jordan Spieth revealed the interesting psychological ploy used by his caddie Michael Greller as he stayed strong down the straight to win the Valero Texas Open, his first win since the 2017 Open Championship . . . a drought that stretched to all of 1,351 days!

With Charley Hoffman making a run at him and Matt Wallace also in his rearview mirror, Greller’s psychology was to emphasise Spieth’s pursuers had more pressure on their shoulders.

“Michael did a great job. He was like, ‘look, Matt and Charley, these guys are playing for a lot more than you’re playing for. Whatever you’re feeling, they’re feeling more. Charley’s trying to get in [the Masters], Matt’s trying to get a job, a [PGA] Tour card. These guys have a lot more to play for than you’ . . . it’s kind of his way. We clearly were very focused on winning this golf tournament and it being important, but I think that was his way of freeing me up and I thought that was really good advice.”

Word of Mouth

“I kind of do a few with my right hand and some with my left hand and I watch out to make sure nobody is in front of me when I do my left hand because I shanked it a few times when I was practising.” – Lydia Ko on her unorthodox pre-round routine of hitting wedge shots one-handed. Ko’s final round 62 saw her leapfrog up the leaderboard in the ANA Inspiration, ultimately finishing runner-up to Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit.

By the Numbers: 80

Pádraig Harrington – not on the invitation list for this week’s Masters – completed a long stretch stateside with a down-the-field tied-69th place finish in the Valero Texas Open. “Probably the toughest week of the lot,” confessed Harrington of being away from his family fo so long. “It’s 80 days since I last saw them.” The Dubliner has pencilled in a three-week break at home before heading back to the PGA Tour.

Twitter Twaddle

Momma Kelly is doing great and recovering. Kepa is also in great health. He is 7.2lb and 20.5inch, big boy from the Basque Country. Without a doubt the greatest day of my life! – Jon Rahm announcing the birth of his son Kepa.

Rarely am I excited to be at the airport but today is an exception cuz I’m Augusta bound for my first Masters in April!!! #golf – Max Homa on getting to play a springtime Masters. Homa, winner of the Genesis back in February, missed the cut on his debut last November.

Jordan Spieth is so good he only needs a swing that doesn’t get him trouble . . . then his short game, putting and killer instinct just flows right out of him. – former PGA champion Steve Elkington clearly in the Spieth fan club.

On this day: April 6th, 1986

Sandy Lyle started the final round of the Greater Greensboro Open with a three-stroke lead. However, a bogey on his second hole, where he drove into trees and then hit an overhanging limb and also a photographer with his attempted recovery, brought a horde of pursuers into the frame and, at one point, there were a dozen players within four shots of the lead.

Lyle – who’d won the Open Championship the previous year but still chasing a breakthrough win in the United States – recovered with back-to-back birdies on the ninth and 10th to finish with a 70 for a total of 13-under-par 275 which gave him a two-strokes winning margin over Andy Bean.

“The reason it means so much to a foreign player to win here is that every week you go up against a big field, there are 140 guys who can win every time out. Plus, it’s a nice cheque,” said the Scot, who pocketed $90,000 for his win.

In the bag: Patty Tavatanakit (ANA Inspiration)

Driver: Ping G410 LST (9 degrees)
3-wood: Ping G425 Max (14.5 degrees)
Hybrid: Ping G425 (19 degrees)
Irons: Ping i210 (4-PW)
Wedges: Ping Glide Forged (50, 56 and 60 degrees)
Putter: Bettinardi Studio Stock 3 prototype
Golf: Titleist ProV1x

Know the Rules

Q
In hitting a wayward drive into heavy rough, Player A reaches the area where she believes the ball has come to rest and proceeds to search for her ball. After a two-minute search, she discovers the ball and leaves the area to get a club. On her return, she cannot find the ball. How long does she have to search for the ball again?

A
Player A has one minute to search for the ball before it becomes lost. The three-minute search time stopped when the ball was first found.

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