Brooks Koepka is always one snub away from winning another major.
The latest opportunity for Koepka to fatten up the metaphorical boulder on his well-chiseled shoulders came Wednesday night at the ESPY awards.
Koepka was a finalist for “Male Athlete of the Year” along with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo grabbed “Male Athlete of the Year” honors in somewhat of an upset.
Koepka earlier won the “Best Male Golfer” ESPY, beating out Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari in an award that he appeared to be a lock to win.
If ESPN could have gotten Woods to show up, he would have been a shoo-in to win top male golfer honors. But Tiger is taking 1 a.m. wake-up calls on the East Coast to prep for Royal Portrush.
If Woods had accepted that ESPY via video, Koepka probably would have ripped off 10 straight majors.
The 2019 “Best Female Golfer” ESPY Award winner is Brooke Henderson. She beat Ariya Jutanugarn, Jin-Young Ko and Sung Hyun Park for the award.
Advocates for each “Male Athlete of the Year” nominee had a strong case. Three are reigning MVPs. Koepka is the defending PGA Tour Player of the Year.
Your choice likely depends on how you value team success vs. individual performance and achievement.
For those who emphasize winning above all else – Antetokounmpo and Mahomes should have been eliminated since neither celebrated a title or even reached the championship round in their respective sport.
Antetokounmpo was NBA MVP, but his Bucks were bounced from the playoffs by the eventual champion Raptors in the Eastern Finals. NFL MVP Mahomes lit the league ablaze by throwing 50 touchdown passes in one season – joining Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as the only NFL QBs to do so – only to get out-Bradyed by Brady in the AFC Championship Game.
Betts and the Red Sox won 118 games in 2018 en route to the franchise’s fourth World Series title in 15 years. But Mookie had eight teammates on the field assisting him on every pitch.
That leaves Koepka. All he did was win majors. And he did it on his own (at least on the course). The winner of the PGA Championship twice and U.S. Open once since June 2018, Koepka finished second at the 2019 Masters and 2019 U.S. Open by 4 shots combined. He only had a caddie at his side, and not Chris Sale, J.D. Martinez or Xander Bogaerts.
Koepka adds a level of raw athleticism to a sport whose all-time greats once routinely smoked their sponsor’s brand of cigarettes during televised tournaments and major championships.
Given Mahomes’ wide-spread national popularity, his mad skills, his ability to create Top 10 highlights each week and the fact that he’s the best hope the world has to stop Brady from winning another Super Bowl in February, he was widely expected to win “Best Male Athlete” honors.
Perhaps Koepka won’t be too miffed at Antetokounmpo’s win. For one, Koepka seemed be enjoying the company of Jena Sims before and during the ceremony. You can scan Twitter for images of her NSFW attire from Tuesday and Wednesday evening.
And then there was this.
But the rest of the golf world shouldn’t get too comfortable, even if Koepka and Antetokounmpo are Instagram BFFs.
After all, the British Open begins a week from Thursday.
(Note: This story has been updated with the ESPY Awards announcements Wednesday.)