Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images
By Joel Beall
Brooks Koepka has proved in the last two years he has few equals inside the ropes, or behind the mic. That dexterity was on display once more Wednesday in Las Vegas.
Making his first appearance of the 2019-’20 PGA Tour season this week at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Koepka made his first public comments since his curious snub in the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year vote. Koepka, who hasn’t shied away from airing his grievances, let his feelings known on the subject.
“I don’t play for awards, I play to win. To win trophies, to win tournaments,” said Koepka, who, to the surprise of many, lost the vote to Rory McIlroy.
Koepka quickly added a jab. “Yeah, it would have been great … but I think everyone in the room knows LeBron James has only won four MVPs, but I’m pretty sure he’s been the best player for more than four years,” Koepka said with a smirk.
Still, the more surprising news to arise from Koepka’s press conference was the reveal that he played through injury last season, one the required treatment following the Tour Championship in August.
“I had some stem cell done on my knee. My patella tendon was partially torn, so just rehabbing that,” Koepka said. “Spent the first probably three, four weeks just rehabbing that and been back hitting balls.”
Later in the interview Koepka divulged the treatment, which he received the Monday after the East Lake finale, was far from a pleasant experience.
“It wasn’t technically surgery; it was stem cell. Got to go in there and inject it,” Koepka said. “I was watching it on the screen as they were doing it and it was probably one of the most painful things. I was screaming when they did it.
“I limped out of there. I was limping for probably two, three days after, and then it’s just about trying to grow the muscles around it. Try to get strong again, rest it. That’s kind of how we went with it, doing a little rehab. The important thing was to not walk with a limp. Those three days you’re kind of off your feet.
Koepka said rehab started soon after and that, thus far, the procedure has worked.
“I can finally practice again, which is nice, without pain,” he said. “Last year I didn’t practice at all. I mean, I vocalized that, said I hadn’t practiced. I finally feel this year I can practice again. I think people forget, too, I also had a wrist injury. I was just coming back off that. I still don’t know — I’ve only got so many shots left.
“If I can come back and be healthy, that was the important thing. I finally feel good enough where I can actually practice and feel prepared coming into golf tournaments.”
Koepka, who remains atop the World Rankings, is making his fifth start at the Shriners. He finished second in his last appearance in the event in 2017.