Brooks Koepka re-aggravates wrist injury during range session mishap at Players

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 09: Brooks Koepka of the United States plays a shot during practice rounds prior to THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 9, 2018 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Brooks Koepka re-aggravates wrist injury during range session mishap at Players

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Brooks Koepka re-aggravates wrist injury during range session mishap at Players

 

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Brooks Koepka was the last player to arrive to the 10th tee Thursday morning ahead of his Round 1 pairing with Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson at the Players Championship.  

As of Wednesday night, he wasn’t sure he’d be there at all after re-aggravating a wrist injury which sidelined him for four months earlier this season.

Koepka was hitting balls on the south end of the driving range at TPC Sawgrass on Wednesday afternoon. The majority of players have been practicing on the north end of the range, closer to the clubhouse where spectators can watch, but the south end has been available for use all week as well. 

Koepka’s coach, Claude Harmon III, noticed earlier this week that tournament support staff members were driving golf carts dangerously close in front of where players were hitting on the south end.

“Literally right in front of us,” Harmon said. “Players have all been complaining.” 

While Koepka was working on low 3-iron shots, a golf cart crossed his path about 15 yards in front of him. Koepka abruptly stopped and pulled up mid-swing to avoid hitting someone in the golf cart. He immediately felt pain in his left wrist due to the awkward stopping motion.

“Brooks said, ‘If I would have hit the shot, I would have killed him,’” Harmon said.

Said Koepka: “I unloaded everything. I don’t know how (I stopped). There were a bunch of guys like, ‘Holy (expletive), I can’t believe you actually stopped that.’ … I think it was the first time my strength actually backfired, being strong enough to stop it.”

Koepka threw his club down in anger and immediately went to see his trainer, Mark Wahl. He was able to get an MRI Scan and X-rays around 3 p.m. and sent the results to his doctor at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

Unsure about playing until Thursday

His doctor told him he might still be able to play depending on how it felt in the morning. Koepka iced it all of Wednesday night and got to TPC Sawgrass early Thursday to test the wrist and do exercises with Wahl and his fitness coach, Joey Diovisalvi.

“It took a long time to warm up, but I guess it’s a little looser now than it was starting the day,” Koepka said. “Early morning tee time didn’t really help.”

Koepka felt good enough to give it a shot but was nowhere near 100 percent, according to Harmon. He also wasn’t able to prepare like he wanted to considering his Wednesday practice session was cut short.

“He’s going at things very gingerly and certainly not up to full speed,” said Harmon, who walked the front nine with Koepka Thursday morning.

According to Harmon, this wasn’t an isolated incident with the golf carts driving too close to the players on the range.

“Every player I’ve talked to has gone, ‘Man, that happened to me all week,” Harmon said. “You would think at the PGA Tour flagship event, at their home, players wouldn’t have to stand there and have to deal with golf carts driving in front of them. … There’s no golf carts driving in front of them on the (north) end of the range where the spectators are. Just at the back end. At the back end it’s OK. It just makes no sense.”

PGA Tour Vice President of Communications Joel Schuchmann said Thursday afternoon that the Tour talked to Koepka’s team about the incident, but he wasn’t prepared to comment because he didn’t know the details of that conversation.

“Obviously it was an unfortunate situation,” Schuchmann said. “I don’t know all the actual ins and outs of what exactly happened, but we’re glad he’s playing today.”

The 2017 U.S. Open Champion missed the Masters due to the initial wrist injury and returned to action two weeks ago at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans.

Koepka was able to manage a 2-under 70 in Round 1 of the Players, but Harmon says the injury will limit his ability to practice this week and renders his future playing schedule uncertain.

He had been planning to play the Fort Worth Invitational at Colonial in two weeks and the FedEx St. Jude Classic June 7-10 ahead of defending his title at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock.

“We don’t know if Colonial is out now,” Harmon said. “We really don’t. And we have no idea what condition (his wrist) is going to be in when he’s done.”

Koepka, Johnson and Watson are scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. Friday for Round 2.

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