By Steve Keating
PEBBLEBEACH, CA. (Reuters) – Brooks Koepka could this week become the first player in over a century to win three consecutive U.S. Opens yet was feeling like golf’s forgotten man on Tuesday, miffed at not being included in a promotion for the major.
Koepka has proven he knows how to win golf majors, hoisting the trophies at both the last two PGA Championships and U.S. Opens with a runner-up finish at the Masters in April sandwiched in between.
Yet the 29-year-old American has not been nearly as successful winning the respect he feels his accomplishments deserve.
The most recent slight was brought to his attention on Twitter, when he was alerted to a FOX TV promotion for this week’s U.S. Open that did not include him.
Koepka took his omission in good humour but the oversight clearly stung, providing another source of motivation when the opening round gets underway on Thursday at scenic Pebble Beach Golf Links.
“You’ve always got to find something to give you a little bit of extra motivation,” said Koepka, during his pre-tournament news conference. “Sometimes it’s blatantly obvious.
“There’s a commercial running now where I’m not even in it and FOX put it up for a preview of the U.S. Open.
“So I don’t know? You guys tell me.”
While Koepka, bidding to become the first golfer since Willie Anderson in 1903, 04 and 05 to win three straight U.S. Opens, clearly craves respect, he can do without the spotlight that often goes hand-in-hand with success.
Softly-spoken but not shy, private but not reclusive, Koepka describes himself as a “regular guy”, who “just happens to be really good at golf”.
For much of his career Koepka has played with what some see as a chip on his muscular shoulders, giving off an intimidating vibe that has also kept fans and media at arm’s length.
“I don’t feel like I’m intimidating,” smiled Koepka. “I feel like I’m a nice guy and will talk to just about anybody on the range or when we’re playing.
“I still think it’s weird when I walk into a place and I can see eyes are on me just for dinner, I’m like, ‘what’s everybody staring at?’
“I just view myself as a regular guy, just like everybody else. I just happen to be really good at golf, and that’s it.
“I just want to be just like everybody else, just a normal person.”
(Editing by Toby Davis)