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Golf - Overlooked Koepka pops up on Green Jacket radar with 66

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Golf - Overlooked Koepka pops up on Green Jacket radar with 66
Brooks Koepka of the U.S. looks at his putt on the 7th green during first round play of the 2019 Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, U.S., April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson   -   Copyright  LUCY NICHOLSON(Reuters)
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By Steve Keating

AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Despite having won three of the last six majors he contested Brooks Koepka was not on many Green Jacket radar screens when he arrived at Augusta National this year.

He is now.

A golfer who prefers to let his play do his talking, Koepka delivered a bogey free six-under 66 that was highlighted by a back nine charge featuring four successive birdies to grab a share of the first round lead alongside Bryson DeChambeau.

While DeChambeau, nicknamed the professor, is seen as the brains of the PGA Tour the muscular Koepka is viewed as the brawn having used to spend hours in the weight room.

Koepka, however, has recently cut back on his gym time and paid more attention to his diet.

His weight loss coincided with an equally noticeable drop in form that saw the 28-year-old slip into a pre-Masters slump, missing the cut at the Arnold Palmer and finishing outside the top 55 at both the Players Championship and WGC Dell Match Play.

“I lift too many weights and I’m too big to play golf and then when I lose weight, I’m too small,” said Koepka. “I don’t know what to say. I’m too big and I’m too small.

“I don’t care what anybody else says. I’m doing it for me, and obviously it seems to work.”

Playing in the last group, Koepka was back to his imposing and intimidating self having what he described as the best ball striking round he has ever had at a major championship.

While Koepka has found it difficult to earn the recognition he feels he deserves there is no denying he is a golfer built for the big stage.

Of his five PGA Tour wins, three have been at majors.

After watching last year’s Masters from his couch recovering from a wrist injury, Koepka has returned a major monster successfully defending his U.S. Open crown last year and winning the 2018 PGA Championship.

“I get to whatever major championship it is and just when I arrive there, I just get a good feeling,” said Koepka.

“I don’t know how to explain it. I’m just dialled in and I’m focused the entire week.

“I keep pretty much the same routine for all the majors.

“I just enjoy the big stage. I enjoy major championships that’s what you’re remembered by.”

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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