AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Brooks Koepka is swinging the club fine, a good sign going into the Masters.
Getting to the ball for those swings is the problem.
Less than a month removed from a March 16 surgery following a fall that left him with a dislocated right kneecap and damaged ligament, Koepka is at Augusta National — a course that isn’t exactly flat and definitely isn’t one of the easier walks in golf.
“I’ve got to do it,” the four-time major champion said Tuesday. “No other option, is there?”
It’s not just his walking that is affected. His putting is as well. Koepka can’t bend down like he would normally, and there’s no getting around that — not even with hours and hours of rehab and treatment each day.
“My knee doesn’t go,” Koepka said. “I mean, that’s the most stress you’re going to have on your patella. I don’t have that much motion in my knee. Prone, I can get it to about 90 degrees and that’s about it. But getting down … it’s going to look funny, I know that.”
Koepka hasn’t played a tournament since February. He missed The Honda Classic, his hometown event, along with The Players Championship and Match Play because of the injury.
He’s been to the Masters five previous times, making the cut in each, and finished tied for second in 2019 and tied for seventh back in November. He knows how to play Augusta National. The question is if he can do it while the knee limits his mobility and flexibility.
Walking downhill is particularly challenging.
“It puts all the pressure on the patella, so considering I dislocated … there’s a bunch of stuff going on in there that can cause a pain right where the brace is,” Koepka said. “It’s probably the most sensitive spot, so it’s going to pull. It’s going to hurt downhill.”
There has been some swelling in recent days, so Koepka is also mindful of how much he’s on his feet away from the golf course.
But the lure of a Masters title and a green jacket is just that strong, so he’s here, pain or no pain.
“You’ve just got to push yourself, and it’s painful at times,” Koepka said. “The rehab was strenuous, but I’ll be all right.”
Koepka already has missed three majors over the last five years, including the Masters in 2018 while recovering from a wrist injury.
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