For all of the accolades Brooks Koepka has piled up over the past 21 months, this week’s Masters Tournament will be the first time he will hit a competitive shot at Augusta National Golf Club as a major champion.
Koepka, who’s won three of the past seven majors contested, missed out on the 2018 Masters due to a wrist injury.
However, it was a choice Koepka made over the offseason that has him not quite 100% as he comes into Augusta National for the first major championship of 2019.
“The diet I was on was probably not the best. I was like 1,800 calories a day,” Koepka said in his pre-tournament press conference. “I mean, you’re not going to be in the best physical shape at that point. You look at somebody like Michael Phelps or somebody like that eating 6,000 or 7,000 calories by lunchtime. But I wanted to do it and try to lose some weight, and maybe went about it a little too aggressively for just a long period of time and the intensity of what I was doing.”
The intensity of what he was doing was cutting down significantly on his caloric intake and going to the gym twice a day in order to prepare for a photo shoot for ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue.
Speaking to GolfChannel.com’s Ryan Lavner at The Players Championship, Koepka revealed that he had lost 24 pounds since November, causing him to lose 10-12 yards off the tee and some of his normal feels.
“When you go from 212 pounds to 190, there’s not as much weight going forward through the ball,” Koepka said. “I don’t have as much feel. I just feel out of sorts.”
Being out of sorts, Koepka has only notched one full-field top-25 since the beginning of the calendar year. And to do so by choice raised the ire of Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee on Live From The Masters on Tuesday night.
“The three times he’s played (in the Masters) he’s finished 33rd, 21st and 11th,” Chamblee said. “That’s a pretty darn good trend. We know why he didn’t play last year, we know what he did at the end of last year, you can extrapolate what he did at the end of last year and what he was likely to do here at Augusta National if everything were the same. Now, for him to change his body and his body chemistry, for vanity reasons, for a vanity shoot, is the most reckless self-sabotage that I have ever seen of an athlete in his prime.
“I get why (ESPN) asked Gary Player to do that shoot. I get why they asked Greg Norman to do that shoot. But to do something that takes you out of your game, to change your game completely, it’s never worked out very well. I think he’d be at the top of everybody’s list to win at Augusta National had he not done this and had his game not declined.”
Koepka thrives on being slighted, and there’s no doubt he and his team will use Chamblee’s words as motivation to pick up his fourth major championship this week at Augusta National.
Koepka will tee off on Thursday in the last threesome of the day at 2 p.m. EST alongside Jordan Spieth and Paul Casey.