Morning Chronicle - Koepka seeks sixth major win after punishment pays off

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Koepka seeks sixth major win after punishment pays off
Koepka seeks sixth major win after punishment pays off / Photo: Andrew Redington - GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Koepka seeks sixth major win after punishment pays off

Defending champion Brooks Koepka wants to avoid a repeat of his self-inflicted "punishment workouts" after last month's disappointing Masters as he chases a sixth major title at the PGA Championship.

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The 34-year-old American will be among the favorites when the year's second major showdown begins on Thursday at Valhalla after winning LIV Golf Singapore two weeks ago.

Koepka went back to fundamentals after finishing 45th at the Masters, a far cry from his 2023 runner-up showing at Augusta National that led him to apologize to his training team.

"Everybody put in a lot of hard work. Dedicated a lot of time and effort and then for me to go out and play like that is not what I expect of myself," Koepka said.

"Winning, you don't really look back at anything. You just kind of celebrate it and kind of move on.

"But when you lose, you're kind of forced into trying to figure out why and what happened and whether that be second place or missing a cut, doesn't really matter. You've got to figure it out."

Part of the process for sorting out his Masters struggles was putting himself through punishing workouts under the guidance of Ara Suppiah, who oversees his training.

"We had a good talk and just kind of put our nose down and kept grinding. Had some difficult punishment workouts," Koepka said. "It was long hours on the range. Just worked with everybody and really tried to go back to the fundamentals, and I think that was the important thing."

The workouts bring motivation for Koepka not to stumble on major stages.

"It sucks. It's not a lot of fun," Koepka said of the sessions. "A lot more running. Very up-tempo, no rest... I think I had like four or five days in a row. I turned white, I wanted to throw up in a few of them. But yeah, got through it."

Analyzing his troubles at Augusta National got Koepka back to basics.

"Had to go back to fundamentals," he said. "Ball position just got back, back with everything, all the way through the bag, even with the putter," Koepka said.

After a week off and playing the next LIV event in Adelaide, Koepka won his next start, having found his swing in Singapore.

- 'I can't explain it' -

Koepka became the first active LIV Golf player to win a major last year when he won at Oak Hill, beating Scottie Scheffler and Viktor Hovland by two strokes. He'll be among 16 LIV players in this week's field.

The 34-year-old American seeks his third set of back-to-back major victories, having also previously won the 2017 and 2018 US Opens and the 2018 and 2019 PGA Championships.

He has always raised his level for golf's biggest events.

"My demeanor and focus is just different. I can't explain it. I don't really know how or what I really do different," Koepka said.

"It's just it's a grinding week. You've got to be fully locked in. I feel like you can't take one shot off. It's always you're one shot away from making a double-bogey and that's what I love."