Ryder Cup starts at Whistling Straits on September 24, live on Sky Sports, but automatic pick Brooks Koepka was unable to join USA team-mates for recent reconnaissance visit because of wrist injury
Last Updated: 14/09/21 8:15pm
Brooks Koepka has revealed he feels team golf to be “different, hectic and a bit odd” just over a week before hopefully taking his place in the US Ryder Cup team.
Koepka was one of six automatic qualifiers for Steve Stricker’s team for the 2021 edition but heads into the week at Whistling Straits under an injury cloud after withdrawing from the Tour Championship with a wrist issue.
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He was the only member of Stricker’s squad not present for a recent two-day trip to the Wisconsin course, with the US captain saying afterwards Koepka was still rehabbing his injury, albeit saying he “wants to be there and he’s working hard to be there”.
However, with the event on the horizon, Koepka was forthright in his views on the disparity between individual and team play – especially on the mental side of the sport – when the topic of the Ryder Cup came up in an exclusive interview with Golf Digest.
“It’s different. It’s hectic. It’s a bit odd, if I’m honest. I don’t want to say it’s a bad week,” said the world No 9.
“We’re just so individualised, and everybody has their routine and a different way of doing things, and now, it’s like, OK, we have to have a meeting at this time or go do this or go do that. It’s the opposite of what happens during a major week.
“If I break down a major week, it’s so chill. You wouldn’t even believe me. I go to the course. I play nine holes. I go work out. Other than that, I’m sitting and watching TV, taking my mind off golf with relaxing stuff. The physical part, I can handle. The mental side, you have to be able to turn it off.”
Koepka has a 4-3-1 record in his two Ryder Cup appearances so far, being part of a winning team under Davis Love III’s captaincy at Hazeltine in 2016 and then tasting defeat at Le Golf National in Paris two years later.
But he admits there is a significantly different dynamic to such events, which clearly take him out of the comfort zone he feels at the big 72-hole events he has excelled in as a four-time major champion.
“It’s tough. There are times where I’m like, I won my match. I did my job. What do you want from me?” Koepka added.
“I know how to take responsibility for the shots I hit every week. Now, somebody else hit a bad shot and left me in a bad spot, and I know this hole is a loss. That’s new, and you have to change the way you think about things.
“You go from an individual sport all the time to a team sport one week a year. It’s so far from my normal routine. I can barely see my [personal] team.
“It’s hard to even go to the gym. At the Presidents Cup in New York, we had to go to the gym at 5 am. to get it in. We went to the Equinox, and it was me, Dustin and Tiger, and we come back and go to a team meeting.
“Under regular conditions, I take naps a lot. I might take an hour, hour-and-a-half nap, or just chill on the couch and watch SportsCenter, before rounds, after rounds, whatever. There’s no time to do that at the Ryder Cup. There’s no time to decompress.”
Who will win the Ryder Cup? Watch the contest from September 24-26 live on Sky Sports’ dedicated Ryder Cup channel – Sky Sports Ryder Cup.