PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Brooks Koepka, in an effort to emerge from a slump that has persisted this year since returning from a knee injury, visited legendary coach Butch Harmon in Las Vegas on Monday in hopes of finding something to jumpstart his game.
Koepka did so with the blessing of his current swing coach, Claude Harmon III – who is Butch’s son – -as well as his short-game guru Pete Cowen after shooting a career- high 81 on Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“It’s one of those things where I just needed a different set of eyes,” said Koepka, who begins play on Thursday at the Players Championship. “Maybe something might click, because I was failing.
“Claude was telling me the same things he’s said for five years, the three keys that we have just worked on, and for some reason I just couldn’t do it. That’s on me. It’s not Claude’s fault. It’s not Pete’s fault, it’s not anybody’s fault except my own, and the fact I couldn’t’ do it, I just needed a fresh set of eyes just to look at it and see if he saw anything out of the ordinary.
“And the beauty of it is Butch has seen it so many times. So it was good for me to go out there. I had Claude’s blessing, I told Pete, and they were all behind it.”
Harmon, 76, has worked with numerous players over the years, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson, just to name a few. In recent years, he has cut back his travel schedule and rarely attends PGA Tour events to work with players.
Koepka, who was ranked No. 1 in the world for eight months following his PGA Championship victory last May, had stem cell treatment on his knee last August, then re-aggravated the injury when he slipped on a path at the CJ Cup in South Korea in October. He didn’t play again until January, and his results have been poor, with a top finish of tied for 17th in Saudi Arabia. He missed the cut at the Honda Classic two weeks ago before his third-round 81 last week at Bay Hill.
He would not, however, blame the knee injury or subsequent layoff for his current problems.
“My knee is fine,” he said. “My knee is exactly where it should be. It’s just a matter of execution, taking care of what I need to take care of. It has nothing to do with my knee. It’s all me not being able to do what Claude’s told me to do and what Pete’s told me to do, Jeff (Pearson) on the putting. That’s me, whether it’s lack of concentration, focus, decisiveness, what it might be, that’s all on my shoulders. It has nothing to do with anybody else.”
Koepka said the advice from Harmon was simple, back-to-basics type stuff and “I think I’m on the right track.”
Koepka, ranked third in the world, plays the first two rounds of the Players with No. 1 Rory McIlroy and No. 2 Jon Rahm starting at 1:51 p.m. on Thursday.