Brooks Koepka still not 100% healthy headed into PGA Championship: 'I can play'

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Brooks Koepka isn’t back to full strength this week at Kiawah Island, but he isn’t pretending to be either.

Koepka, who underwent yet another knee procedure in March, said he still has “days where it sucks.” With another major championship looming this week, however, Koepka isn’t complaining.

“I can’t run. I’m not where I want to be,” he said Tuesday at the PGA Championship, via The Associated Press. “But at the same time, it’s just what I’ve got to deal with, so just move on.”

Koepka: ‘I can deal with the pain’

Koepka underwent surgery on his right knee to fix a dislocated kneecap and ligament damage on March 16. That injury, he said, occurred after he slipped and fell while with his family in Florida. It marked just the latest knee issue he’s dealt with in the past several years, starting with a partially torn patella tendon after the 2019 season.

That injury came at a tough time for the 31-year-old, who won the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February and then came in second at the World Golf Championships-Workday Championship just weeks later.

His Masters performance, however, wasn’t good. Koepka went 5-over in the first two days at Augusta National and missed the cut, all while struggling to bend his knee and read putts on the green. He then missed the cut last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, his only two PGA Tour outings since the procedure.

While it’d be easy to look at his results and say that he rushed his return — especially since he’s not back to full strength even now — Koepka insisted that playing in the Masters was more important for him mentally.

“It didn’t set me back. I was fine,” he said of the Masters. “Just for my own satisfaction, I wanted to play. I was determined to do it. That was the goal all along. I was able to do it. Obviously I didn’t play the way I wanted to. It’s not fun when you can’t do the things you know you’re capable of, but just to be out there, it was mentally satisfying.

“Nobody knows what I went through for those four weeks. Every time I was doing something, I just envisioned myself playing at Augusta … It takes a lot of heart just to do it, but that was the goal.”

Koepka will tee off with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas on Thursday morning in his quest for a third PGA Championship in four years.

Even though he said that doctors have warned him it will take at least six more months for his knee to be fully healthy again, Koepka insists that he can still play.

After all, he said, he’s done it plenty of times in his career already.

“If I beat [six months], I’m doing something good,” he said. “I can play. You’re never 100%, that’s the thing. For two straight years, it’s been left knee, right knee, herniated a disc in my neck, played in Tampa or wherever we were, played through that. I dealt with that all the way through Palm Springs.

“I can deal with the pain. That’s not an issue. It’s just a matter of being able to hit shots that I want to hit and do things I want to do, and I’m starting to be able to do that. Even though I’m not 100%, I can still hit shots.”

Brooks Koepka plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 2021 PGA Championship
After yet another knee procedure in March, Brooks Koepka said he can "deal with the pain" this week at the PGA Championship. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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