PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka his usual confident self at a major after shaking off painful Masters loss

If there was one takeaway from the Masters last month, it was that Brooks Koepka is still a threat at any major championship. And that's regardless of what logo he's wearing.

Koepka steps back into the golf spotlight this week for the PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, New York. It's one of only four times a year that most get to see him play, unless you're one of the very few hardcore fans tuning in for his LIV Golf tournaments.

That doesn't mean fans have forgotten about the man who was once the most feared player to set foot on any major championship course. He won four majors from 2017 to 2019, two U.S. Opens and two PGA Championships. A series of knee injuries hampered him in the years that followed and saw him fall out of contention and tumble in the world rankings.

Was Koepka washed? Just a flash in the pan? If his second-place finish at the Masters a month ago was any indication, Koepka, the major assassin, might be back.

"I feel great. My body feels good. Swinging it the way I want to, moving the way I want to," Koepka said Wednesday, one day before he's set to tee off at Oak Hill.

As for the knees?

"I feel 100 percent, so there's no reason why — right? I'm 33 now, and I think, what, your prime in golf is from when you are about from 30 to 40," he said. "I haven't quite hit the middle of it. But I feel pretty good."

Brooks Koepka comes in with high expectations for this week's PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Brooks Koepka comes in with high expectations for this week's PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

That sounds like someone with all the confidence to hoist another Wanamaker Trophy. And what a statement that would make, given that this is the major most closely tied to the PGA Tour, which continues to feud with the Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Golf tour that launched last year.

Koepka's decision to join LIV Golf in June meant that he revoked his ability to play any regular PGA events. It pretty much means he's playing in relative obscurity, with small galleries and small TV audiences, outside of the four majors. That suits him well, as he has said many times that his primary focus has always been to win majors.

For what it's worth, Koepka has played well at LIV, winning twice already and sitting in second place in this season's overall player points rankings. Perhaps that was a sign of things to come when he arrived at Augusta in April.

He came painfully close to earning his fifth major title at the Masters, leading the field after each of the first three rounds before stumbling to a final round of 3-over 75. Jon Rahm caught him on Sunday and won by 4 strokes.

As excruciating as the loss was, it was a reminder to the golfing world just how lethal Koepka can be under the bright lights.

"I just — I reflected all Sunday night," Koepka said of his fateful final round at Augusta. "I didn't sleep Sunday night, just trying to figure out what exactly it was. Thought about it for a few days after and really honed in on what I was doing and what went wrong."

He didn't divulge what he figured out, but there's no doubt that he'll be ready to go this week when he tees off at 8 a.m. ET Thursday alongside world No. 2 Scottie Scheffler and former U.S. Open champ Gary Woodland. BetMGM has Koepka as the sixth favorite to win this week at +2000.

The big crowds will be back, and the pressure will be palpable. This is where Brooks Koepka thrives.