British Open: On day of shockers, Brooks Koepka's major consistency is no surprise

Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

British Open: On day of shockers, Brooks Koepka's major consistency is no surprise

2019 British Open

British Open: On day of shockers, Brooks Koepka's major consistency is no surprise

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PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – No surprise here – Brooks Koepka’s in contention at another major.

On a day full of bizarre activity and downright shockers occurring all about Royal Portrush in the opening round of the 148th British Open, Mr. Commonplace once again took up residence near the top of the giant yellow scoreboards.

With a 3-under-par 68, Koepka was in a tie for third place and just two shots in back of pacesetter J.B. Holmes. It is the 14th time in the last 17 rounds played in majors where Koepka has been in fourth place or better at the end of the day.

His consistency in majors is like the sun coming up and the clouds opening up in the oldest major championship in the world – as they often did in the first round. But not even Mother Nature’s most vicious lashings threw Koepka off.

“Probably 10,” Koepka said when asked how many times he got doused. “Sometimes they’d come a minute, minute and a half at a time. But standing on 2 tee box, man, I felt like the world was going to end.

“It doesn’t matter. You just push on and see where I’m at and throw the rain gear on and hide under the umbrella a little bit, and when it’s my turn, I’ll just go out and hit one. It doesn’t really faze me.”

Nothing seems to faze him, not even playing on the game’s four biggest stages. Since winning the 2017 U.S. Open, he’s been a major monster. He added the 2018 U.S. Open and 2018 PGA Championship titles to his treasure trove. Then he won this year’s PGA Championship in May.

In the last six majors, he has won three and finished second twice. The only wonder during the stretch is how he tied for 39th in last year’s British Open.

That dull effort won’t be repeated this year. With a chip on his shoulder and a guardian angel on his bag – his caddie, Ricky Elliott, grew up in Portrush and has played the links about 1,000 times – Koepka’s comfort level and confidence are at their peaks. Then again, they always are in a major.

“I’ve hit it unbelievable the last couple of days,” said Koepka, whose lone bogey came as the result of a poor drive on 17. “It’s nice to get some practice in over the last five, six days. I feel good. I feel very comfortable. It’s a major championship.

“That’s what you’re trying to peak for.”

While Koepka peaked, others sunk into the valley of the leaderboard. Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland’s favorite son, hit his first shot out of bounds and shot 79. Past Masters champion Adam Scott shot 78, five-time major winner Phil Mickelson a 76. Tiger Woods was out of sorts en route to a 78. Shocks one and all.

“I’m disappointed, but at the end of the day I’m still the same person,” McIlroy said. “I’m going to go back and see my family, see my friends, and hopefully they don’t think any less of me after a performance like that today. And I’ll dust myself off and come back out tomorrow and try to do better.”

And then there was 2001 Open champion David Duval, who took a 14 on the par-5 7th and shot 91.

“It is one of those God-awful nightmare scenarios which happened today, and I happened to be on the end of it,” Duval said. “It was a long day, a rough day.”

It wasn’t for Koepka. He’s been in a dream scenario for more than two years now and there’s no indication it’s going to end anytime soon. Especially with Elliott on his bag, just as he has been for the four previous victories in majors.

“It’s easy when he’s just standing on the tee telling you to hit it in this spot, and I just listen to him,” Koepka said. “I don’t have to think much. Obviously he knows this golf course like the back of his hand. It’s interesting having him on the bag and all the knowledge. It makes my life a lot easier.”

So, too, does hitting your driver 350 yards. And putting well and striking the ball with all your irons right on the button. And knowing that’s what you’re going to do in every major.

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