After first LIV win, Brooks Koepka reveals big health update
Most of the celebration will come “behind closed doors,” he says, but Brooks Koepka will enjoy this win.
He knows at some point, his right knee, as is, will no longer cooperate.
Before the 32-year-old Koepka knocked off Peter Uihlein on the third playoff hole Sunday at the LIV Golf event in Jeddah, he hadn’t lifted a trophy anywhere since his 2021 victory at the PGA Tour’s WM Phoenix Open. In his first four starts after exclusively joining the Saudi-backed circuit in late June, Koepka didn’t post a top-10 finish. He tied for eighth last week in Thailand, the first leg of Koepka’s first back-to-back since February — all while he continues to put behind him a multitude of knee and hip injuries.
“I didn’t know if my career was over for a half second,” Koepka said. “I told [instructor] Claude [Harmon III] (whom he returned to working with a few months ago) that I wasn’t sure if I was going to play. It’s nice to be able to come back and to be able to win.”
Koepka’s knee trouble began in August 2019, when he had stem cell treatment to repair a partially torn left patella tendon, but he then re-tore the tendon after slipping at the CJ Cup that September and missed three months. In 2020, he compensated for the knee so much that he aggravated the labrum in his left hip.
The following year, shortly after winning in Phoenix, Koepka suffered a “dislocated and shattered” right kneecap. Despite having surgery, he returned to play in the Masters less than two months later. Even earlier this year, Koepka hadn’t looked quite himself.
“The last two years haven’t been fun,” Koepka said. “It’s been a long road.”
Koepka has said recently that he feels healthier than ever, but on Sunday, he offered some insight into his long-term health.
“It’s been before LIV, when I blew my knee out and my foot was pointed that way, almost backwards and sideways,” Koepka said. “Credit to Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache; throw his name out there. I mean, eventually I’m going to have to have a knee replacement in a few years, but I wasn’t sure whether I could even move the same way and if I want to play if I could move the way I wanted.
“I’m fortunate [to] be in the spot that I’m in right now.”
Koepka, a four-time major champion and former world No. 1, has slipped to No. 33 in the Official World Golf Ranking. With LIV yet to secure world ranking points, he’s not in line for a big jump after Sunday’s win.
Instead, he’ll look toward the LIV season finale, particularly the team race, in two weeks at Trump Doral.
“Honestly, to me, the big thing today was getting the team win,” said Koepka, who shares a team with Uihlein, Jason Kokrak and brother Chase Koepka. “I told my brother I’d buy him a Lambo if we won the team thing, so now, I’ve got to go buy one.”
“Lime green,” Chase chimed in.
Uihlein then added: “The team, yeah, we’re peaking for Miami, which is what we want to do.”
“That’s the big thing,” Koepka closed.
Koepka’s priorities have certainly shifted a bit, haven’t they?
But no matter what Koepka hopes to achieve in the future, if that knee-replacement timeline is accurate, the window is short.