Brooks Koepka underwent September stem cell procedure on left knee

Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports

Brooks Koepka underwent September stem cell procedure on left knee

PGA Tour

Brooks Koepka underwent September stem cell procedure on left knee

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LAS VEGAS – Brooks Koepka turned in another sterling campaign last season, winning three times, including his fourth major triumph at the PGA Championship, as well as posting runner-up finishes in the Masters and U.S. Open and finishing in a tie for fourth in the British Open.

Turns out the world No. 1 did much of his work on a bum knee.

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Ahead of his season debut in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin, Koepka revealed Wednesday he underwent a stem cell procedure for a partially torn patella tendon. He did it to relieve discomfort and strengthen a left knee that had been bugging him since March.

The procedure was performed Sept. 2 in Orlando.

“It’s stem cell, so they go in and inject it into my knee,” Koepka said. “I’m watching it on the screen, as they were doing it, and it was probably one of the most painful things, I was screaming when they did it.”

The 29-year-old limped out of the clinic and stayed off his feet best he could for three days, then started rehabbing the area. He started practicing 10 days ago.

Koepka said he often limped last season inside the ropes, especially walking downhill. The ailing knee didn’t bother him much through the swing, but he could feel it.

“Was a little hesitant to get on my left side, where now, I’ve got no issue,” he said.

There’s no longer an issue with practice, either. Last year Koepka said he didn’t practice much, which raised some eyebrows in the golf community. What Koepka didn’t say last year was that injuries kept his practice time to a minimum.

“I can finally practice again without pain,” he said. “I finally feel this year I can practice again. I think people forget, too, I also had a wrist injury. I was just coming back off that. My wrist wasn’t 100% and my knee was bugging me from about March on. Just not going to make excuses. It’s nice to feel good for once.

“I finally feel good enough where I can actually practice and feel prepared coming into golf tournaments. Not trying to find it on Tuesday or Wednesday.

“I’ll be practicing this year.”

Despite his injuries, Koepka was in line to win a second consecutive PGA Tour Players of the Year award. But to the surprise of many – including the victor himself – Rory McIlroy was voted the POY by his peers.

McIlroy certainly had an outstanding season – three wins, including the Players Championship and the Tour Championship, for his second FedExCup title. He also had the lowest stroke average on the PGA Tour and 14 top-10s in 19 starts.

Koepka, who had nine top-10s in 21 starts, won a major and a WGC title among his three wins. He also finished in the top four in all the majors, a feat accomplished just six other times by four players.

When asked about the POY, Koepka was his blunt self.

“I don’t play for awards,” he said. “I just play to win, win trophies, win tournaments. It would’ve been great, but I think everybody in this room knows. I mean, LeBron has only won four MVPs and I’m pretty sure he’s been the best player for more than just four years.”

Well, his new campaign starts Thursday. Last year Koepka won in Korea in his season debut. He is making his fifth start in the Shriners. He missed cuts in 2014 and 2016, tied for fourth in 2015 and finished second in 2017. Seeing that it’s an odd year, if this trend continues, he’ll be in the hunt come Sunday.
Which is all he wants.

“It’s great to finish second, but I have one goal – just to win. That’s it. Win as many times as I can this year,” he said. “I enjoy the competition. That’s what I want. I want to be the best. Right now, I can set that pace, and, you know, everybody is in the rear view mirror. I just got to figure out how I can consistently stay on top and even grow that lead.”

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