Brooks Koepka, Smash GC all business at LIV Golf Tulsa
By John Dobberstein, Editor
When LIV Golf Tulsa kicks off shortly after noon Friday at Cedar Ridge Country Club, 4-time major winner Brooks Koepka will be grinding as always, not just in golf, but in preparing to be a father. Brooks and his wife, Jena Sims, are expecting a boy after getting married last year. And while Brooks is excited, his game preparation for now stays the same.
“Right now, it’s still the same thing. I’m still busting my butt at home, out here grinding, but when that boy comes it’s going to be a little bit of an eye opener for me, and it’ll be fun.
He adds, “I think when I talk to different guys, perspectives change. I feel like I've got a good head on my shoulders and understand that golf isn’t my happiness. Golf isn’t my life, especially when he comes. It'll be a little bit of a culture change for me, I guess. But as far as golf comes, like I said, that'll be my happiness at that point.”
Brooks was asked if he could pass one trait from himself and one from his wife to their child, what it would be. “I hope he gets a lot more traits from my wife than he does me,” he answered. “I think me probably discipline. I think I’m pretty disciplined when it comes down to work. And them my wife’s sense of humor. You always want to be funny, right?”
Brooks’ teammate Jason Kokrak, the only experienced father on the team, was asked what advice he’s pass along to their captain.
“I've told this to a number of other guys: there's nothing to prepare you to be a father,” Kokrak says. “Boy or girl, you just kind of wake up instinctually and start caring for the little boy or girl. He’s more than prepared. He’s taken care of himself, and I think he's going to be a great father.”
Speaking of family, Brooks is playing on team Smash GC with his brother Chase. He reflected on that opportunity and how they grew up together.
“He’s always been someone for me to lean on, and LIV Golf has allowed us to get closer to each other. That's been fantastic for me and my family,” Chase says. “Growing up, we played every day, especially in the summertime. We’d go out to Okeeheelee Golf Course to play almost every single day from sunup to sundown.
“We’ve had some really cool memories. And we’ve had some really cool fights out on the golf course. But that’s what brothers are supposed to do.”
After having strong runs in previous majors, Brooks says he’s feeling good about his game coming into the Tulsa event, with the PGA Championship coming on its heels next week.
“This week it’s just trying to make sure I tune everything up and get ready for next week,” he said. “I like the majors. I like the discipline, the mental grind that comes with it all, and I just use this week to get ready. That’s a huge thing.
“I’ve always done it. It’s not always about getting results the week before, but about making sure everything is starting to line up and I can see the progress and where we’re going to be for next week.”
His teammate Matt Wolff enters the tournament as one of several “hometown heroes” who played golf at Oklahoma State University, which has become one of the premier collegiate golf programs in the U.S.
“I live in Jupiter (Fla.) but every time I come back here it’s a close-knit family here,” Wolff says. “I feel like the Oklahoma State family in general is really tight, and there's going to be a lot of people out here supporting that. It'll be a lot of fun to be back here and I'm excited to tee it up with these guys.”
It all depends
The weather forecast for Tulsa this weekend is not promising, with thunderstorms and wind promising to hang around through Sunday. That could slow the greens down a bit.
While much is being made about weather conditions – after all, it is May in Oklahoma -- Wolff says his fellow golfers have played championship golf in tough conditions before.
“I played at Karsten Creek (Golf Club) for Oklahoma State, so it was a little different golf course, with very tree-lined chutes and the wind kind of swirls. But here it's a little bit more open, so it's kind of easier to feel where it's coming from.
“But these guys are good. I'm not worried about giving them any advice.”
Brooks often talks about playing holes the way they’re designed, and that philosophy could come into play on the “quirky” risk-or-reward hole 12 that is being chatted about among the players, or any of the others on the course. Brooks says pin locations and winds will determine how aggressively he can play the holes.
“I don't have any game plan going into anything until I step on that tee box. I don't look at the hole locations before. I don't look at anything,” Brooks says. “Whenever I get to the tee it's, ‘Let's figure it out.’
“I think the way these bunkers are kind of set up, you try and avoid the fairway bunkers at all costs. That will be kind of key if you can take two out and put one into play, it might be worth hitting driver or something like that.”