Rozner: Watching Brooks Koepka suffer is a reminder of Tiger Woods' greatness

  • Brooks Koepka has two wins and two second-place finishes in his last four major championships.

    Brooks Koepka has two wins and two second-place finishes in his last four major championships. Associated Press

Updated 7/17/2019 7:56 AM

In his last four major starts, Brooks Koepka has a win, a second, a win and a second.

Superhuman 10 months for anyone not named Tiger Woods.


This year, in particular, Koepka had a tough second to Woods, losing by a shot at the Masters, before hanging on for dear life at the PGA Championship on a brutal Bethpage track, and then another gut-wrenching second to Gary Woodland at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open in California.

Koepka immediately flew to the Travelers Championship in Connecticut where he made the cut, but played so poorly that he was in the first group out on Sunday -- for the first time in his career.

That continued a trend for Koepka in non-major events, especially the start after majors, including a T-50 in Canada after the PGA and a T-57 at the Travelers.

Two weeks later, he was 65th in Minnesota.

"I'm just fried. Everything's aching. Feel like an old man," said the 29-year-old Koepka at the Travelers. "It's hard to focus. I don't think I'm even over the PGA and then to exert all that energy (at the U.S. Open), I've caught myself yawning on the course.

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"When you plan your schedule, you don't think you're going to compete in all three majors and still be fried from it."

It's enough to make you wonder what Koepka has left in the tank for Portrush this week at the Open Championship.

"When you play well at majors, it drains you emotionally," Koepka said. "The adrenaline wears off, you're not fully rested and you feel it.

"Plus, coming off a win, there's still a little bit of a high and that takes something out of you."

Pick against Koepka at your own peril, given his four wins and a pair of seconds in his last nine major starts.

On top of that, this Open Championship course will play eerily similar to Bethpage in the PGA Championship, where a premium is placed on hitting fairways and staying out of the lumberyard.


There's also the fact that his caddie worked at Portrush -- and once posted a 65 -- so that's local knowledge that offers a monster advantage.

But the last two years have exacted a heavy physical and emotional toll on Koepka. For a normal person, this is entirely understandable, the pressure a crushing and unrelenting weight.

And it's a reminder that it's foolish to ever compare anyone to Tiger Woods.

When Woods captured his third straight major at the PGA Championship in 2000 -- on his way to the Tiger Slam -- he went to the WGC Bridgestone the following week.

And won by 11.

He didn't rest or celebrate. He wasn't fried. He just obliterated another field.

In 1997, after winning his first major Woods won his next start.

In 2006, he won the British Open. Then won his next start. Then won the PGA Championship at Medinah. Then won the next week at another WGC event. Then won the next week at Deutsche Bank.

Woods won his last seven starts of 2006, interrupted only by the Ryder Cup, with wins in three straight weeks after a long summer and two consecutive major championship victories.

In 2007, he won five of his last six starts, including the PGA Championship, and in the only tournament he didn't win he finished second.

Woods won four times in 1997 with a major.

He won eight times in 1999 with a major.

He won nine times in 2000 with three majors.

He won five times in 2001 with a major.

He won five times in 2002 with two majors.

He won five times in 2003.

He won six times in 2005 with two majors.

He won eight times in 2006 with two majors.

He won seven times in 2007 with one major.

He won four times in only six starts in 2008, finished second at the Masters and won the U.S. Open on a broken leg with a torn ACL.

He won six times in 2009.

In the decade from 2000-09, Woods won 56 times with 12 major championships.

The purpose here isn't to criticize Koepka, who has just two non-major victories on Tour.

Not in the slightest.

Big Game Brooks is a guaranteed Hall of Famer and the best player in the game today, certain to win more majors before he calls it quits.

This is merely a reminder that he is not Tiger Woods.

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