Brooks Koepka has always been a player who has played golf with a chip on his shoulder.
After winning his fourth major championship in his last eight major starts on Sunday at the PGA Championship, he explained in no uncertain terms some of the fuel that keeps his fire going.
Asked what the most disrespected or slighted he has felt in his career, Koepka answered right away, “Telling me I wasn’t tough. That pissed me off. That really pissed me off,” he said.
Following up, the reporter, ESPN.com’s Kevin Van Valkenburg, asked Koepka to name the offender.
“I think we all know,” he said.
Of course, we know it was Chamblee who questioned Koepka’s toughness on Live From The Masters after the eventual runner-up shot a bogey-free 66 to take the first round lead at Augusta National.
“His talent is undeniable,” Chamblee said. “But I’ve heard people say this. You extrapolate from accomplishment, you infer qualities from a human being like, ‘He’s really tough.’ Maybe he is, I don’t know. I got to say, I still need to be convinced.”
Perhaps lost in the greater hype of Tiger Woods’ victory, Chamblee’s comments fell by the wayside in the aftermath of the Masters, but for Koepka and his camp, they were never pulled down from the bulletin board, and resurfaced again on Sunday night on Long Island.
And on the set of Live From The PGA Championship, Chamblee began backing off his criticism of Koepka and eventually heaped the praise on the four-time major champion that he deserves.
“He’s made a believer out of me,” Chamblee said. “I don’t know that anybody saw this coming. We saw his talent. We knew how good he was. We knew how far he hit it. We knew that he had good touch around and on the greens. But how is it that a man who’s only won twice in regular Tour events shows up at the events with the thickest pressure, that mean the most, with the most mental hurdles that everybody else trips over, and he just glides right over them, one by one by one? That’s miraculous, is what it is.”
With only two active players in the game that have more major championships to their credit, it’s hard not to believe in Koepka. And as he went Thursday through Sunday as the solo leader at the end of each round, he’s shown that he can win major championships from back in the pack as well as out in front.
“To win wire-to-wire is such a mental accomplishment,” Chamblee said later. “It’s a Rubik’s Cube. You’re trying to match yourself to the pressures every single day, trying to keep those at bay. … He’s handled it mentally, he handled it physically, he handled it technically. He’s made a believer out of me.”