An offseason that saw Brooks Koepka sidelined with a knee injury was one without the unfiltered thoughts of one of the most honest guys in the game.
Now that he’s had a few months to rehab his surgically-repaired left knee, Koepka has returned to action on the PGA and European Tours in recent weeks, and on Monday, he made the media rounds as part of the PGA Championship media day.
Traveling around San Francisco, site of this year’s second major championship at Harding Park, Koepka had a sit-down town-hall interview with SiriusXM Radio’s Sway Callaway.
In the same setting in which Koepka made news last year, the four-time major champion sounded off on one of the more controversial situations to take place in golf in recent months: Patrick Reed’s two-shot penalty for improving his lie at December’s Hero World Challenge.
As the topic was broached by Callaway, Koepka broke into a smile and readied himself for an answer he knew would be sure to make headlines.
“That brings up the Patrick Reed situation now,” Callaway began. “People accusing him of cheating and trying to change his lie… what are your thoughts on that? Was he cheating?”
“Yeah,” Koepka said flat-out. “I don’t know what he was doing, building sandcastles in the sand. You know where your club is. I took three months off and I can promise you I know if I touched sand. If you look at the video, obviously he grazes the sand twice and then he still chops down on it.
“It’s one of those things if you play the game you understand the rules, you understand the integrity that goes on. There’s no room for it. I’ll be honest, I’ve seen it a couple of times where it’s like, woah, I’ve seen some big names and said woah, that’s not right and I’ve bit my tongue.
“A lot of times on TV you can’t hide from the cameras and everything. We bite our tongue a lot. Guys will hit it in the rough and all a sudden they’ve got 3-wood out and they’re patting (the grass) down. It’s interesting, it goes on a little bit more than people think.”
Expounding upon his answer when asked if he believed it’s good for the sport, and “if you can get away with it, then you can get away with it,” Koepka again gave an honest answer, and cited a specific example.
“It’s not good (for the game),” Koepka said. “It’s one of those things that’s going to be tough to prove unless the cameras actually catch it.”
Koepka cited a past U.S. Open (he didn’t specify a year) in which a playing partner hit a ball into six-inch-high rough and seemingly used a 3-wood to improve his lie before pulling out a wedge to get back into the fairway.
“I haven’t opened my mouth,” Koepka said, which he equated to being guilty of breaking the rules himself. “But now if I saw it, just because of where I’m at in the game, the stature that I have, I think now I would definitely say something.”
With Koepka’s comments sure to make the rounds, it’ll be interesting to see how Reed and the PGA Tour responds. In the aftermath of the controversy, Reed and his team have sent at least one cease and desist letter to a critical party, and the PGA Tour reprimanded Australian Cam Smith for speaking publicly in a disparaging way about Reed’s conduct.
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