Brooks Koepka often carries a metaphorical chip on his very broad shoulders.
But now that Koepka is the No. 1 ranked player in the world, does he finally feel like he’s getting the recognition he feels he deserves?
“The goal was to get to No. 1 and once you get here, you just need to stay here,” he said Thursday after shooting an even-par 72 in the first round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China. Koepka nabbed the No. 1 OWGR spot with his victory last week at The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges.
Koepka was named the 2018 PGA Tour Player of the Year by his peers. He nabbed his second consecutive U.S. Open in June, followed by the PGA Championship trophy in August. He held off none other than Tiger Woods on the last day by two shots at Bellerive.
Still, Koepka’s current hold on No. 1 in the OWGR is tenuous. Both BFF Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose, the 2018 FedEx Cup champion, have a shot to steal the No. 1 spot from Koepka depending on how things finish this weekend in China.
“That’s something I think every player dreams of and every player wants to do, but it’s even better when I’ve got my good friend pushing me. You know that he’s always right behind you, so you’ve got to play good every time you come to play,” Koepka said.
Rose is three shots ahead of Koepka, while Johnson struggled in round one with a 74. The event leader, Patrick Reed, shot a 64 Thursday.
For Koepka, the windy conditions and some bad breaks around the water marred what could have been a solid round.
“I love competition. I love getting out here and playing and just need to play a little better the next three days,” he said. “I felt like I played good enough to shoot 4- or 5-under par. It was those momentum-building shots. You look at the turn, 18, goes in the water where it should be a birdie, a relatively easy birdie. Then on 1, had one horseshoe back at me. It would be nice to have those and feel like you’re making a lot of progress out here because it was a tough day.”