There’s at least one media member who will be on hand at the PGA Championship next week that will not be bulletin board material for Brooks Koepka: CBS play-by-play man Jim Nantz.
Nantz, in no uncertain terms, made his feelings known about the man to beat at Bethpage Black next week during a conference call previewing the event, and it wasn’t Tiger Woods.
Asked for his thoughts on a handful of favorites — Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth, specifically — Nantz pivoted to his favorite.
“Poor Brooks Koepka. If I don’t bring up his name right now, you guys are never gonna bring him up,” Nantz told the media members on the phone. “It’s borderline tragic in terms of how you cover a player or subject.
“He’s having the best run in golf since Tiger in 2000 and 2001. We’re gonna create the story there and it’s just not interesting enough to us to be able to give the guy the time. Forget how much time he exerts and gives to those of us who cover him. I’m not concerned with that. I’m just talking about facts.”
Jim Nantz usually keeps his opinions to himself. But he went off the cuff in sharing who he thinks is the favorite to win the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black next week: Brooks Koepka
“He’s having the best run in golf since Tiger in 2000 and 2001.”https://t.co/CibN3jvIGf
— Pat Ralph (@Pat_Ralph) May 9, 2019
“In the last 13 major championships that he’s played in, he’s got 11 top-13 finishes,” Nantz continued. “That means he’s been in contention 11 out of 13 majors. That breaks down to eight top-10s, seven top-6s, six top-5s, four top-4s, and three wins and a second. We all know he’s won three of the last seven he’s played in. We haven’t seen anybody that dominant in the game since Tiger in 2000 and 2001.
“We can’t give the guy a sniff. If we really tell the true story, we want to deal in what’s reality. We may not think it’s interesting enough to make the public follow along, but I’ve gotta do a better job of that. It starts with me. And I think for those of us who cover the sport and who are trying to tell people what the sport’s about, we gotta do a better job at addressing that we have a star right here on our hands.”
Nantz finished his monologue with the possibility of what golf fans have been aching for for decades: a true rivalry at the top of the sport.
“We might be on the brink of the next golf rivalry we’ve all wanted forever,” Nantz said. “(Koepka and Woods have) gone one-two and one-two in the last two major championships. In my mind, (Koepka) is the favorite coming into Bethpage just based on what he’s done in his last 13 majors. It’s an awesome stretch for him, and I think it’s a very good thing for the welfare of the game. I’m hoping that materializes into another little showdown between these two guys.”
Should Nantz’s vision materialize, Woods and Koepka will be seeing a lot of one another on Long Island next week. The two are paired together, along with Francesco Molinari, for the first two rounds.