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Dublin: 5°C Sunday 28 February 2021

Koepka gains the inside track on Royal Portrush from Irish caddie

Ricky Elliott has been on the American’s bag for six years and will be able to provide some local knowledge this week.

Koepka and his Irish caddie Ricky Elliott in Portrush.
Koepka and his Irish caddie Ricky Elliott in Portrush.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

WORLD NUMBER ONE  Brooks Koepka says having Portrush local Ricky Elliott on the bag for this week’s Open gives him “more confidence”, but Tiger Woods failed in a bid to join the pair for a practice round.

Koepka arrives in Northern Ireland having won on two of his last four Major appearances, while finishing runner-up in the other two.

The 29-year-old, who claimed his fourth Major title at the PGA Championship in May, will be expecting to improve on his previous best Open finish of tied-sixth.

Despite having never visited Northern Ireland before, the American is not having too many difficulties getting to grips with the Royal Portrush layout, as Elliott knows the course inside out.

“I definitely have a little bit more confidence having him on the bag this week, knowing this golf course so well. But I’m looking forward to it,” said Koepka.

“Every hole I just step up on, ‘You tell me what to do, you’ve played it more than anybody’.

“So just let him figure it out. He knows his spots to miss it. The spots to come in from, with different hole locations and different winds.”

Three-time Open champion Woods admitted he had been hoping to tap into Elliott’s course knowledge by playing a practice round with Koepka.

“I texted Brooksie, ‘congratulations on another great finish’. What he’s done in the last four Major championships has been just unbelievable,” said Woods. 

The Open Championship 2019 - Preview Day Three - Royal Portrush Golf Club The four-time Major winner speaking to media on Tuesday. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

“And I said, ‘Hey, dude, do you mind if I tag along and play a practice round?’ I’ve heard nothing.”

Koepka’s record in golf’s big four tournaments is made even more remarkable by the fact he has won only two other regular PGA Tour events, the Phoenix Open in 2015 and the CJ Cup in South Korea last year.

But Koepka says there is a perfectly simple explanation to his success.

“I just practise before the Majors. Regular tournaments I don’t practise,” he said.

“If you’ve seen me on TV, that’s when I play golf… On Wednesday was the first time I touched a club in, what, ten days. That happens week in and week out. And Majors I like to play the week before and find a rhythm, build a rhythm.”

Koepka has often been left bewildered by a perceived lack of media interest in his achievements, and he questioned why he barely featured in an advert for the US Open earlier this year despite being the two-time defending champion.

But he now says despite keeping his “chip on the shoulder”, he is just focusing on adding to his already impressive major tally.

“Like I said, over the last year and a half, I just felt like if other guys had done what I had done it would be a bigger deal.

“Now it doesn’t matter to me. I’ve got my own chip on my shoulder for what I’m trying to accomplish.”

© AFP 2019

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