Four-time major winning Brooks Koepka returns to PGA Tour competition this week in Las Vegas declaring his troublesome left knee is a ‘million times better’ a year after a fall sidelined him from last year’s CJ Cup title defence in South Korea.
It is just four days short of exactly a year ago the then No. 1 ranked golfer in the world was forced to withdraw from the CJ Cup after slipping on a wet concrete pathway late on Friday and aggravating his injured left knee.
Koepka was the defending champion at the South Korean event and then 13 strokes behind leader Justin Thomas at the time of his departure.
The American had recently completed stem cell treatment on his knee in late August, and the CJ Cup was his second event back.
Koepka was sidelined for nearly three months meaning he had to withdraw from last December’s USA Presidents Cup side and ended 2019 down at No. 7 in the world.
He eventually returned to competition in mid-January contesting the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship (T34th) and the Saudi International (T17th) before rejoining the PGA Tour mid-February when he teed-up in four events, including the cancelled Players Championship ahead of the lockdown.
He returned for the June 11th restart and contested eight events, capped by a share of second in the WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational, before again being forced onto the sideline with injury, having to pull-out of the U.S. Open, the major he won back-to-back in 2017 and ’18.
Two months on and the No. 11 ranked Koepka is sounding confident in his first event of the 2020/21 Tour schedule.
“It’s nice to be back and I’ve spent the last two months pretty much rehabbing, getting everything squared away,” he said.
“My knee’s a million times better. I really had no idea how bad I felt through the whole year. Obviously Memorial was kind of its peak of when it was its worst, and then at the PGA it didn’t feel great.
“It was just getting progressively worse. I’m happy — I did another round of PRP about three weeks ago on my knee and then I had a shot in my hip at Boston. It’s just all about trying to make sure everything’s good.
“I spent basically the last month out in San Diego, so I haven’t been home. I’m just doing rehab every day and just trying to get better.
“So, I feel good. Started hitting balls maybe 10 days ago. Actually, it was pretty good. Got out here on Thursday, went out to Butch’s place, just hit a few balls to get the week started.
“Hopefully, I’ll be fine. I’ve got my body squared away, feels a lot better. I didn’t know how bad I felt until actually it felt good. It’s nice to be back.”
Koepka was taken back to last year’s CJ Cup and questioned about the nature of the injury when he slipped that Friday night on a wet pathway.
“When I slipped, I guess last year, my knee was fine going into that because I had done the whole stem cell PRP thing, then obviously slipped and then re-tore it kind of in a — the tear’s in the middle of the patellar tendon, so that’s pretty much caused all these issues,” he said.
“Then going into my hip, the hip was the reason. My knee wasn’t even the reason this time, but that came from the knee.”
And Koepka had a one-word answer to a reporter’s question as to what he would term as a good week, this week.
“Winning,” Koepka said.