MEMPHIS, Tenn. – For Brooks Koepka, the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational has been a tale of two putting rounds.
On Thursday, the hole looked as big as a basketball hoop and he took just 26 putts en route to shooting 62. But on Friday, the hole must have looked like a thimble as Koepka took 34 swipes and shot 1-over 71 at TPC Southwind. He’s in a three-way tie for third at 7-under-par 133 and trails 36-hole leader Brendon Todd by four strokes.
“I just putted badly,” Koepka said. “It wasn’t really anything other than that.”
The Strokes Gained: putting stat backed up his words as Koepka lost more than four strokes to the field and ranked dead last in the category.
Koepka was skating along just fine early in his morning round, hitting his first 10 greens in regulation and rolling in a birdie putt at No. 11, his second hole of the day. He held the lead at 10 under when his round unraveled at the short, par-4 second hole.
After driving into the left fairway bunker and coming up short of the green, Koepka wedged to 3 feet, 3 inches. That’s when his putter woes struck. Three putts later, he walked off the green with a double bogey, his lead was gone and he was reeling.
“I think it caught a little bit of the bottom lip, I’m not sure. And then the next one, I think it just caught the top lip,” he said.
Koepka switched putting coaches on Wednesday, and despite his struggles on the green, he said he stuck with the new technique that putting guru Phil Kenyon prescribed.
“I felt like I did everything we were trying to do, just wasn’t working, wasn’t seeing the line,” he said. “Even yesterday I said I didn’t feel quite comfortable over anything inside five feet and today it just felt kind of the same.”
After the round, Koepka returned to the practice-putting green and worked with Kenyon some more.
While the putter continuing to plague him, Koepka was pleased with his improved ballstriking since spending time with instructor Pete Cowen. Koepka leads the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-green and hit 15 greens in regulation, one more than he did yesterday when he shot 62. Most importantly, his confidence in his game remains intact despite scoring over par at this course for the first time in seven rounds..
“I’ve got 36 holes to go, man,” he said. “I ain’t worried.”