Two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is the fourth major winner — and the highest-ranked player in the world so far — committed to play in the inaugural 3M Open coming to Blaine in July.
The 2018 PGA Tour Player of the Year joins five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, defending Masters champion Patrick Reed and 2015 PGA Championship winner Jason Day on a growing list of players who have told 3M Open and PGA Tour officials they will play at TPC Twin Cities. The four-day event starts July 4.
Tournament officials on Thursday announced Koepka’s decision to play in what will be Minnesota’s first PGA Tour event since 1969.
Koepka is ranked third worldwide behind Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose. He won the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, then successfully defended his title last summer at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, N.Y.
By doing so, he became the first man to win consecutive U.S. Opens since Curtis Strange won in 1988 and 1989. When Koepka won the PGA Championship two months later at Bellerive Country Club near St. Louis, it was his second victory in the past three majors. He didn’t play the year’s first major — the 2018 Masters — because of wrist surgery that had sidelined him for nearly four months.
“I couldn’t even pull a sheet up over me without being in pain,” Koepka told reporters at the Players Championship last week in Florida. “I didn’t know if I was ever going to swing it the same, didn’t know if I was going to have to make adjustments in the swing and never be the same player.
“But the second you get out there and I started hitting balls, I mean, this is what I do. If I’m going to go out after the injury, I would rather go out giving my all and know, hey, I tried to come back and it wouldn’t let me.
“Thankfully, everything was fine.”
More than fine for a Floridian who made his way to the PGA Tour by playing the European Tour first.
His best finishes in seven starts this season are a victory last October in the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges in South Korea and a second-place tie three weeks ago at the Honda Classic.
He finished tied for 56th at the Players but is headed toward next month’s Masters as one of the men to beat, given the result in two of his past three majors.
“I’ve got a lot more confidence now than I’ve ever had,” said Koepka, who turns 29 in May. “That’s all it is. The majors are, I don’t want to say easier, but I feel it kind of is.
“You’ve got so many guys playing, a couple of them are mentally going to beat themselves up. Certain guys are going to throw themselves out, and it really kind of whittles down to a few players. By Saturday, you can pretty much almost predict who is going to be there come Sunday.”
Now ranked 16th on tour in driving distance at nearly 308 yards, Koepka has won 12 times as a professional, five of those on the PGA Tour. Three of those are majors.
He’ll arrive in July to play a TPC Twin Cities course that will be lengthened some but mostly will be narrowed to defend itself from big hitters such as Koepka.
The 156 players who will comprise the 3M Open field must officially enter by June 28 and can withdraw at any time.