PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The twisting and picturesque fairways of Pebble Seashore weren’t alleged to be Brooks Koepka’s model of vodka.
This wasn’t Bethpage Black, the place Koepka powered his approach to his fourth main in his final eight main begins, or Erin Hills, the place he received his first main on huge, welcoming fairways. But after an eventful first spherical there he was perched simply 4 strokes off the lead.
Perhaps that is the final word chip for a participant who relishes the position of being the ignored celebrity. Though he’d talked about a promotional spot for this week’s championship that didn’t embody him as a perceived slight, maybe the true gasoline comes from the concept that this wasn’t alleged to be his sort of course.
It actually didn’t look that approach early in his spherical when the two-time defending champion birdied 4 of his first six holes to maneuver to inside a stroke of the early lead.
There have been hiccups coming in – a missed inexperienced at No. eight that bounced onerous and into the hay, a wayward drive at No. 13 and a tee shot on the iconic 17th gap that airmailed the inexperienced. All of them led to bogeys and added as much as a 2-under 69 that was 4 pictures off the tempo set by Justin Rose.
“It is a battle when you’re not going to hit fairways. For those who’re not going to hit greens, it will be powerful,” mentioned Koepka, who hit simply seven of 14 greens in regulation. “I am really fairly happy.”
If that doesn’t precisely sound just like the man who’s on the verge of turning into the primary participant in over a century to win three consecutive U.S. Opens, it’s one more indication that Koepka will not be a machine regardless of his often-stoic demeanor.
The most effective proof of this got here on the par-5 closing gap when Koepka pushed his Three-wood off the tee properly proper of the golf green and opted to play his second shot off a cart path. As he made his approach to the inexperienced a gaggle of followers cheered from one of many palatial houses alongside the golf green.
“I used to be attempting to hit your own home,” he mentioned with a smile.
Koepka has discovered in an amazingly brief period of time the ebb and stream of main championship golf and that in case your worst day is beneath par, significantly at a U.S. Open, you’re doing fantastic.
“I’d have appreciated to have shot a pair extra. However contemplating how I hit it coming in, I am fairly happy,” he mentioned. “I did not shoot myself out of it. I am proper there. I really feel like if I get out tomorrow and get off to a superb begin, I am proper again into it.”
He’s earned this calmness actually. He was tied for 33rd after Day 1 final 12 months on the PGA Championship and tied for 46th after his first 18 on the ’18 U.S. Open on his approach to victory at each. By comparability his tie for 16th at Pebble Seashore in all probability looks like a cause to sleep simple.
He won’t have began his week like some would have anticipated, however he’s nonetheless on tempo to complete precisely the place one would think about.