Brooks Koepka doesn't blame J.B. Holmes' slow play for his disappointing finish

Steve Flynn/USA TODAY Sports

Brooks Koepka doesn't blame J.B. Holmes' slow play for his disappointing finish

2019 British Open

Brooks Koepka doesn't blame J.B. Holmes' slow play for his disappointing finish

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PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – Major monster Brooks Koepka wasn’t about to place the blame for a disappointing final round in the 148th British Open on playing partner J.B. Holmes and his, um, deliberate ways.

Yes, Holmes is one of the most unhurried players in professional golf, and yes, Koepka, the winner of four majors and three of the last seven played, does a slow burn when play is slow.

But Holmes, who started the final round in third place at 10 under, hit his opening tee shot out of bounds and things got worse from there as he visited most every ghastly place on the Dunluce links at Royal Portrush on a gloomy, rainy and windy day by the North Atlantic Sea en route to an 87.

Yes, Koepka did point to an imaginary watch walking off one hole as he stared at the walking official, his way of saying let’s speed things up. But he didn’t bash Holmes despite being peppered by questions after the round of his playing partner’s dawdling pace.

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Instead, Koepka’s disappointment was self-inflicted, the 3-over-par 74 that left him in a tie for fourth squarely on his massive, muscular shoulders.

“If you don’t play good you’re not going to win,” the world No. 1 said. “So, it’s very simple. It’s disappointing, yes. I didn’t play the way I wanted to.

“And I’ve got to live with that.”

He’ll manage, especially in the majors, which he’s owned of late. To the tune of four in all and three of the last seven played. He headed into the Open having gone 1-2-1-2 in the last four majors.

And he put himself in position right off the bat with an opening-round 68 and stayed in striking distance after a 69 and 67 in the next two rounds. Thus, it was shocking to see Koepka begin the final round with four consecutive bogeys, the first time he’s made four consecutive bogeys since the final round of the Tour Championship last year.

Slow play had nothing to do with the first four holes nor did it have an impact on Koepka’s woes with the putter. On Saturday in the third round, Koepka looked over at caddie Ricky Elliott and said he couldn’t make a putt as another good stroke didn’t produce. He could have repeated those words in the final round.

“My putting was the most frustrating part of the week,” he said. “I just didn’t make anything. I hit good putts. They just didn’t go in. And I left a couple putts short right in the middle, so that’s very frustrating.”

No, Holmes was not the culprit. Koepka clearly wasn’t comfortable playing with Holmes, but his playing partner wasn’t the reason Koepka signed for a 74.

He’s human after all. He isn’t a machine in the four biggest events in golf. He isn’t immune to poor rounds in majors. And he doesn’t play the blame game.

“J.B. had a rough day. J.B. is a slow player. I know it’s difficult with the wind, but I didn’t think he was that bad today,” Koepka said. “I thought he was all right. There were times where I thought it was slow. There’s a lot of slow guys out here.

“What I don’t understand is when it’s your turn to hit, your glove is not on, then you start thinking about it, that’s where the problem lies. It’s not that he takes that long. He doesn’t do anything until his turn. That’s the frustrating part. But he’s not the only one that does it out here.

“But like I said, it wasn’t that bad today, it really wasn’t. It was slow, but it wasn’t that bad for his usual pace. It was relatively quick for what he usually does.”

While Koepka may be slow to get over his frustration with his play in the final major of the season, it was a remarkable major season. Try 2-1-2-T4, with his victory in the PGA Championship. And Koepka finished 15 of the last 20 rounds in a major in a tie for fourth or better.

A tie for fourth is coveted by many, especially in a major, but when you’re Koepka and you’re on a 1-2-1-2 run in majors that extended to last year, you’re going to be upset with a tie for fourth.

“As a whole it’s awesome,” Koepka said of the major record in 2019. “That’s what I’m striving to do, play well in the big events. And I sort of did that. This week is disappointing, but the rest of them have been great.

“I’m not going to lie. It’s been fun.”

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