PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA | Finally healthy after months recovering from a serious left wrist injury, Brooks Koepka was nearly undone by an unaware man on a golf cart Wednesday afternoon.
Koepka was left to deal with pain in his mended wrist while the unknown cart driver escaped something potentially far worse had the reigning U.S. Open champion not been able to halt a full-swing 3-iron in an instant.
“He would have been dead. It was perfect timing,” Koepka said, explaining the incident after shooting 2-under-par 70 in the first round of the Players Championship.
Koepka, making just his fourth start after missing three months due to a partial tendon tear in his left wrist, was practicing 3-iron punch shots at the back of the Stadium Course practice range in anticipation of the tee shot at the 18th hole. As he was working his way through his practice session, Koepka interrupted a swing when he caught a glimpse of the cart driving 15 yards in front of him.
“I unloaded everything. I don’t know how. There were a bunch of guys around who were like holy … I can’t believe you actually stopped that,” Koepka said.
“It was the first time my strength actually backfired. I was strong enough to stop it.”
Koepka iced his wrist through much of Wednesday night and went through a tentative warm-up session Thursday, starting with short wedge shots off tees. He said his wrist was stiff and sore but he did not consider withdrawing.
“I fought through this for three months (before taking a three-month break). I’m just not going to quit. I’m going to figure out a way,” Koepka said.
“I felt like I could still win the golf tournament. If I don’t feel like I can win I’m not going to play. I don’t quit, man.”