Brooks Koepka pulled out of The Northern Trust on Wednesday citing lingering knee and hip pain. The withdrawal from the first of three tournaments in the season-ending FedEx Cup Playoffs effectively ends Koepka’s PGA Tour season.
The 30-year-old had been playing a packed schedule, entering the last six consecutive tournaments. Had he qualified to move on to all three events in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, he would have played nine tournaments in as many weeks.
His results in that six-week span were spotty. Koepka had just one top-5 finish, a tie for second at the World Golf Championships FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He missed three cuts, finished tied for 62nd at the Memorial, and was tied for 29th at the PGA Championship.
When Koepka missed the cut at last week’s Wyndham Championship, he insisted both his knee and hip were in good shape.
“My golf swing’s fine,” Keopka said. “If I can physically do it, then yes, everything’s fine.”
But at the PGA Championship two weeks ago, Koepka was seen lying on the ground several times while a trainer helped stretch his hip out.
“It just locked up, cramped,” Koepka said. “I couldn’t do anything with it.”
Koepka Hopes Knee Solid for US Open
With the next month off, Koepka can focus on strengthening his knee and preparing for the Sept. 17th US Open, where he has dominated the last three years. He won the major in 2017 and 2018, and was second last year.
For that reason, Koepka is the 11/1 favorite at Bovada, and a 12/1 co-favorite at Ladbrokes, Westgate, DraftKings, and BetMGM. Oddsmakers are apparently not scared off by his knee issue.
Rory McIlroy told reporters on Wednesday that some rest might actually be beneficial for Koepka.
“Brooks is one of the biggest names in the game,” McIlroy said. “We’ve all seen his physical struggles since last year. It’s maybe never a good time, but it’s a better time than any other time to get it right. You know, take a few weeks off, try to get himself ready for the US Open, and then the Masters coming up, as well. I think it’s smart on his part to do that, and hopefully [he] comes back healthy and comes back ready to play.”
Knee Injury Dates Back to Last Year
Koepka’s problems began after the 2019 Tour Championship. Following the season-ending tournament, where he finished tied for third, Koepka underwent a stem cell procedure on his troublesome knee.
When the 2019-2020 season began in late September, Koepka waited until the Shriners Hospital Open in October to play, and missed the cut there. Two weeks later, he was in South Korea at the CJ Cup when he hurt his knee, slipping on wet cement and withdrawing.
He didn’t play again until February, and hinted the knee wasn’t 100%. His results certainly showed that. He missed a cut and finished no better than a tie for 43rd in the two other events he played.
The COVID-19 pandemic actually gave him 12 needed weeks off, and he returned June 14, tying for 32nd at the Charles Schwab Challenge. He followed that up with a seventh-place finish at the RBC Heritage.
Still, the knee was giving him trouble. He admitted to reporters in July that he had an MRI, and wasn’t sure what the future held.