HAVEN – Though he was quoted in a recent interview as saying that he found it difficult to adjust to the particular demands of the Ryder Cup and that “it’s just maybe not in my DNA, the team sports thing,” Brooks Koepka said Wednesday that his words have been taken out of context.
“I never said it was negative,” Koepka said on the eve of the 43rd matches, in his first and only pre-tournament interview at Whistling Straits. “Y’all spun it that way. I never said it was negative. I said it was different. Like I said, I’ve never played any of these team events. I didn’t play Walker Cup. Never played Junior Ryder Cup. Never played anything.
“I just said it’s different. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. Y’all spun it that way.”
Koepka, ranked 10th in the world, has played in two Ryder Cups – in 2016 at Hazeltine National in Minnesota, where the U.S. won, and in 2018 in Paris, where the Europeans claimed a lopsided 17½-10½ victory. He has a 4-3-1 record.
The extensive interview earlier this month with Golf Digest raised questions about Koepka’s desire to play in the biennial matches. Paul Azinger, the 2008 Ryder Cup captain and now an analyst for NBC Sports, responded by saying that if Koepka didn’t want to play, he should relinquish his spot.
In the interview, Koepka said of the Ryder Cup, “It’s tough. There are times where I’m like, I won my match. I did my job. What do you want from me? I know how to take responsibility for the shots I hit every week. Now, somebody else hit a bad shot and left me in a bad spot, and I know this hole is a loss. That’s new, and you have to change the way you think about things. You go from an individual sport all the time to a team sport one week a year. It’s so far from my normal routine.”
Asked Wednesday if he “loved” the Ryder Cup and was looking forward to playing in the matches, which get underway Friday, Koepka said, “Yeah, I enjoy it. I think it’s a lot of fun to play. Like I said, I wouldn’t be nervous on the first tee if I didn’t care.”
He also said he had no problem getting along with teammate Bryson DeChambeau. Earlier this year, the two engaged in a well-publicized feud on social media. Earlier in the week, they were seen chatting and laughing on the range.
“We are on the same team together,” Koepka said. “We’ve had dinner almost every night as a team. I got here on Monday. Everybody who is on our team is interacting and everybody is participating in conversations and doing everything we need to do.”
The big question is how many matches Koepka will play. He withdrew from the Tour Championship with a wrist injury two weeks ago and in March underwent knee surgery to deal with a kneecap dislocation and ligament damage.
“I’m like glass, so I wouldn’t say I am 100 percent,” he said. “Left knee, right knee … broken man. I feel fine. I feel as good as I’ve felt in a long time. Over the past week and a half, I did a lot of work on it with Derek Samuel, my trainer. He was down with me for about eight weeks, so (I was) able to kind of work everything out and make sure it’s fine, but I feel good and I’m ready to go as much or as little as they want.”