Is Brooks Koepka Getting Too Big For His Boots?

By: | Fri 18 Oct 2019 | Comments


Is Brooks Koepka getting too big for his boots? That depends on the size of his shoes. Anyone who follows golf in any kind of capacity will know that the current world number 1, and reigning PGA champion, gets a lot of flack thrown his way and dishes out a lot of it in return. He lays into rivals and isn’t afraid to toot – no, slam – his own horn. He's got big feet, has old Brooks. But thus far, they’ve been matched by some even bigger shoes.

This week, however, Koepka may have taken things a little too far – his clown-sized clogs are beginning to stretch. What am I talking about? What else other than Koepka's already infamous recent comments on the subject of his 'rivalry' with Rory McIlroy. Not that Brooks would use that word. In a put-down that has since been quoted back to him in almost every media outlet on the planet, Koepka dismissed talk of a rivalry, and the implied parity, between himself and his Irish opponent. Brooks pointed out that “Rory hasn’t won a major since [he's] been on the PGA Tour,” adding that he “just [doesn’t] view it as a rivalry”. The gist of his speech was plain: McIlroy, for Brooks, isn’t a threat.

It may be true that Brooks has the measure of McIlroy, but it’s a strain on his laces to imply that the Northern Irishman is golfing small fry. Not only does it massively underestimate what may be the most exceptional player to emerge since the days of Tiger Woods, but it also pushes at the boundary of social niceties. Even Woods – never one for modesty in his heydays at the top of the sport – wore his cockiness much lighter than Koepka. And they will be many spectators and perhaps even some fellow players who don’t appreciate Koepka’s smack. Possibly this was behind his shock loss in the Player of the Year awards, voted for, less we forget, by the American’s peers. Many of my golfing friends find what they perceive as his arrogance distasteful and are unabashed about their preferences for other players.

Brooks Koepka Comments

Koepka’s big mouth, however, isn’t all bad. There have been times when these very same friends, as well as PGA Tour players, have actively praised it. However annoying is Koepka’s ego, his outspokenness has reaped many benefits. It was Brooks, for example, who led the charge against slow play earlier this year, giving it an impetus that had previously been lacking. Granted, this came through personal attacks on Bryson DeChambeau and then, at the Open, J.B. Holmes, but it was a gauntlet that needed to be thrown. Koepka’s rhetoric here was similar to his slam on McIlroy, witheringly noting that, despite being so slow that Koepka was seen angrily tapping his watch to officials during the round, his playing partner was “relatively quick for what he usually does.” This is the same abrasive voice speaking. However, this time it was embraced by his fellows on tour. The takeaway seems to be that tour pros and fans are a fickle bunch, more than happy to sanction the same loudness they usually criticise: it just needs to be turned to a cause they support.

I wonder then whether Koepka’s behaviour is as much of a live wire as some commentators, and the odd moody tour player, would have us believe. After all, we’ve allowed a lot of great sports stars to shoot their mouths off over the years, and usually without weakening their star powers. Think of the eternally bitchy Seve, and, in other sports such as running, the over-the-top boasting of Usain Bolt. From one angle, a player who isn’t afraid to give opinions and challenge the odd orthodoxy is a blessing, bringing much needed colour to the frame. Wouldn’t it be boring if all pros were like cookie-cutter robots, bleeping the same old PR-approved dribble in every interview (which many of them, of course, already do)? There are obviously lines, and Koepka’s no-nonsense put down of Rory McIlroy gets close to them, but for the moment, I think he is just on the right side.

Brooks Koepka has big feet. For now though, he still slips into his shoes.


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