A former major champion who longed to make this year’s US Ryder Cup team was victorious on Sunday at LIV Golf’s second-to-last regular season event of 2023. Bryson DeChambeau shot a final-round 63 to rally from eight shots off the lead and win by one at Rich Harvest Farms, collecting his second victory on the circuit in three starts.
A current major champion who did make this year’s US Ryder Cup team wound up finishing eight shots back of DeChambeau. Whether Brooks Koepka’s T-24 finish foreshadows anything about how he’ll play next week in Italy as he joins his American teammates isn’t clear. Yet as the lone LIV golfer playing at Marco Simone, there will be plenty of eyes on the reigning PGA Championship winner and just how he’ll fit in with his former PGA Tour colleagues.
“My whole mindset has been to practise for that the last few weeks. Yeah, I mean, look, I think it’s one of the top six, seven, biggest sporting events you can have. So I like it when there’s a little bit more eyeballs, a little bit more pressure,” Koepka said on Wednesday during a pre-tournament press conference at Rich Harvest Farms.
“It’s obviously different with the whole team thing. Sometimes you don’t play every match so you are just cheerleading from the side, which can be quite fun as well. I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been great and I’m looking forward to it.”
Koepka’s results have tailed off since his clutch play in April and May when he finished T-2 at the Masters and grabbed his fifth career major title at the PGA at Oak Hill. He hasn’t posted a top-15 finish in his last four LIV starts dating back to July.
In part, some of that can be explained by the arrival of his first child, Crew, in July. Koepka’s wife, Jena, delivered the baby early, and it wasn’t until a few weeks later that the new parents welcomed him home.
Concerns over whether Koepka will be considered an outsider among the US team seem unfounded; he lives in Jupiter, Florida, and practises at times near various members of the US team, along with his soon-to-be European rivals.
“I see Rory [McIlroy] — I know he’s on the other side, so is Shane [Lowry],” Koepka told Sports Illustrated. “But JT [Justin Thomas], I see Patrick Cantlay, Rickie [Fowler]. There must be six or seven guys who live in the same area who will be at the Ryder Cup.”
LIV Golf arranged a flight from Chicago to Rome since Koepka was unable to join the Ryder Cup team charter with his playing obligations at Rich Harvest Farms. But he joined the team during their scouting trip to Marco Simone earlier this month. He also joined Sam Burns in getting a new haircut for the occasion.
Freedom Flow🇺🇸🦅 pic.twitter.com/S63ZAZoU1k
— Brooks Koepka (@BKoepka) September 22, 2023
Main image: Icon Sportswire