Koepka hoping to find rhythm in Dallas before USPGA defence
The 29-year-old believes playing the week before is best way to prepare for Major
Brooks Koepka practising for the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas, Texas. Photograph: Getty Images
Brooks Koepka believes the AT&T Byron Nelson will be the ideal way to prepare to for his US PGA Championship title defence.
Koepka teamed up with his brother Chase at last month’s Zurich Classic, but this week is his first individual start since finishing runner-up in the Masters to continue his brilliant recent record in Major championships.
The 29-year-old has won three of the last seven Majors he has contested, and feels playing the week before is the best way to get ready for the challenge posed by Bethpage, which hosted the US Open in 2002 and 2009.
“I usually play the week before a major. I think Augusta is the only one I don’t do it,” Koepka told a pre-tournament press conference. “The rest of them I like to play the week before.
“I like building a little bit of rhythm, finding your game, figuring out how to score, to manage your game. It’s just something that’s worked for me. I think we’ve looked at the stats and usually my second week out is my best week. So I’m trying to make those for the Majors.”
Koepka lost in a play-off to Sergio Garcia at the AT&T Byron Nelson when it was held at Las Colinas, but is making his debut at Trinity Forest, which hosts the event for the second straight year.
“You just want to play well here,” the world number three added. “You’re not trying to blow this week off just to make sure you’ve got a shot you might hit two, three times for next week. That doesn’t make any sense to me.
“You go out and play and see how you’re hitting it, and make adjustments and kind of move on from there.”
AT&T BYRON NELSON
Purse: $7.9 million ($1.42m to the winner)
Where: Dallas, Texas
The course: Trinity Forest Golf Club – designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw – plays host to the Byron Nelson for a second year. The sprawling course – 7,558 yards Par 71 –doesn’t have any trees or water, but there is lots of land, over 100 acres of fairways and greens in fact. The main defence of the course is the wind.
Defending champion: Aaron Wise – a runner-up the previous week in Charlotte – maintained that hot form, and made his breakthrough win on tour in his rookie season, finishing three strokes clear of Marc Leishman.
Irish in the field: Pádraig Harrington, seeking to find some form ahead of next week’s US PGA, is playing along with in-form Séamus Power, who has finished 6th, 5th and 13th in his last three appearances on tour.
Betting: Brooks Koepka, the world number three, is the star of the show, and this is reflected in tight favouritism of 13/2, with Hideki Matsuyama a 12/1 shot. Wise is 20/1 to defend his title. Better value can be found on Branden Grace (28/1), while a real long shot worth an each way punt is Doug Ghim at 300/1.
On TV: Sky Sports from 8.30pm (featured groups from 1.30pm)