‘False confidence’: Brooks Koepka doubts Ryder Cup players’ mettle

Brooks Koepka was his honest self in a Wednesday media session, where he dished on Ryder Cup pressure and the absence of LIV players.

The post ‘False confidence’: Brooks Koepka doubts Ryder Cup players’ mettle appeared first on Golf.

Brooks Koepka was his honest self in a Wednesday media session, where he dished on Ryder Cup pressure and the absence of LIV players.

The post ‘False confidence’: Brooks Koepka doubts Ryder Cup players’ mettle appeared first on Golf.

ROME — Brooks Koepka was in a giving mood on Wednesday afternoon as he sat down to the podium for his pre-Ryder Cup media session.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Koepka was warm or fuzzy; that’s not really his press-conference style. But it meant he was ready to dish out a couple raw, honest, unvarnished takes.

The first came as the result of a terrific question from the AP’s Doug Ferguson.

If the Ryder Cup came down to one match on the course to decide it, I suspect if you ask all 24 guys here if they want the ball, they’d say yes. How many of them do you think really mean it?

Koepka paused. This is a guy who has famously said that the tournaments where he can count out the most competitors are the major championships, after all. He believes in himself. And he doubts his competition.

“Very few,” he said, eventually. “False confidence, I think.”

It was the moment of the pre-tournament media availability. A murmur went through the lightly filled room. He continued.

“I think other than the Ryder Cup, I think the most pressure you can feel is in a major. Guys should believe in themselves, but everybody else has got to be thinking that they don’t. That’s why I think that way. You’ve got to think you’re the best player on the golf course, best player on the team, best player in that current time, and if you don’t, then there’s something wrong with you.”

In other words, Koepka really does believe in his mental toughness. But he also intentionally thinks that way, too.

“You’ve always got to believe you’re the best and want to be the best and have that drive, and that’s what’s going to put you over the edge,” he said. “I think a lot of guys have it, but I don’t know how many guys would want an eight-footer with this on the line.”

Koepka also spoke freely on LIV. One thing that has endeared Koepka to his fans and PGA Tour peers has been his commitment to calling it how he sees it; he hasn’t gone out of his way to praise LIV nor denigrate the PGA Tour. But as the only LIV player here — “I didn’t notice,” he deadpanned — the questions were inevitable.

Does he feel like he’s representing LIV?

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“I feel like I’m representing the USA,” he said, channeling his inner Mike Eruzione. “That’s what I’ve got on the front of my hat this week, so that’s what I’m representing. It’s not a group of individuals in that locker room. We’re just all one team, and that’s the way we think. That’s what I believe, and I’m pretty sure everybody else there thinks that.”

He was asked about LIV’s team format and how it might help him in Ryder Cup competition — but he rejected that idea.

“I mean, you’re just going to play a round of golf and then the team scores add up at the end,” he said. “I don’t see how that has really any translation to this format.”

In recent weeks there’s also been some chatter about LIV pros and whether they should have been given greater consideration by U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson. Dustin Johnson said that he was “good enough” to be on the team and that he would have made it were he still a PGA Tour member. Bryson DeChambeau echoed those sentiments after winning LIV’s Chicago event this past weekend.

“Brooks is obviously going to kill it for Team USA next week and [I’m] excited for the team, but yeah, it definitely does sting a little bit,” DeChambeau said.

“Say what you want, we’re still golfers, and I personally think that given the way I played this week, I could have definitely racked up some points for Team USA.”

Koepka, by contrast, hasn’t been playing his best golf on LIV. But through his PGA Championship victory and Masters runner-up finish, he earned enough points to essentially auto-qualify for the team. (He fell outside the top six only in the final week of qualifying, when PGA Tour pros jumped him in the FedEx Cup playoffs.) Asked whether his LIV peers have been overlooked, he wasn’t exactly sympathetic to their cause.

“I don’t make the decisions,” he said. “Everybody had an opportunity to get there. I mean, I had the same opportunity as every other LIV player, and I’m here.

“Play better. That’s always the answer.”

Koepka even offered some feedback on the hairstyle currently sported by teammate Sam Burns; Koepka has recently committed to what might be described as an understated mullet but Burns has gone all in.

“Sam has got a nice Kentucky waterfall going. It’s pretty solid, although the USA that’s inscribed in the side of his head, I don’t know if he was doing that looking in a mirror because it’s not — USA doesn’t look the best, but it makes it even better, I think. It definitely classes it up a little bit.”

As for Koepka’s own game? He hasn’t been quite himself in a couple months; he finished T64 in the final major of the year and doesn’t have a top 15 in his most recent four LIV events. But he prides himself on his ability to get up for big events. And this week?

“It’s a big event, so I’ll be there,” he said. He even allowed himself to let his mind wander to a hypothetical Sunday afternoon singles match with everything on the line…

“We have no idea where we’re going to be on Sunday, what order, or at least I don’t. I don’t think any of the guys have that down yet,” he said. “But I mean, you want to play a good player. And yeah, I’d love to play Jon [Rahm], Rory [McIlroy], Vik [Hovland].

“I’ll play anybody.”

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