Brooks Koepka was having trouble just walking a month ago, so a double-bogey on the seventh hole during his first round at the Travelers Championship wasn’t the worst thing he’s faced recently.
Still recovering from the torn ligaments in his right ankle, Koepka recovered from a few hiccups on his inward nine to shoot a 3-under 67 at the TPC River Highlands Thursday.
Koepka birdied five of his first 10 holes in Round 1 before facing a few speed bumps on his way to the finish line, including a three-putt 6 at the par-4 seventh.
“I felt like I could have shot about 8- or 9-under. I was cruising for a little while, then reality kicked in and I came back down to Earth,” said Koepka, who was slated to tee off at 1:15 p.m. in today’s second round.
His ankle, despite the ups and downs of the round, held up well, according to Koepka.
Koepka, 26, who took the rather unusual American route of playing on a European mini-tour as a young pro then the European Tour itself before joining the PGA Tour, had sought out former world-No. 1 Rory McIlroy recently for advice with the injury.
“I spoke with Rory a little bit about it. It’s basically the same thing (McIlroy suffered),” Koepka said. “We had to rebuild the strength back in the ankle.”
A strong performance at the PGA Championship last week at Baltusrol in which he finished tied for fourth, has Koepka back in position to play for the U.S. He’s currently fifth in the Ryder Cup standings.
“I’m looking forward to it. I think it would be a cool experience. It was one of my goals starting the year,” Koepka said.
Although he says he still isn’t 100 percent healthy, Koepka was pleased he was able to get through 36 holes at Baltusrol on Sunday, even if needed a few days off afterward.
“Monday and Tuesday off helped. Walking 36 (holes), I was pretty sore,” Koepka said.
A West Palm Beach, Florida native and three-time All-American at Florida State, Koepka is No. 17 in the world golf rankings. He has seven top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season, though his lone Tour victory remains last season’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.