As the top golfer in the world, Brooks Koepka has shown that he has no problem confronting, or at least calling out, his fellow competitors when he takes issue with something they’ve done. It’s the kind of personality that led him to calling Sergio Garcia a whiny baby, and getting into a physical altercation with Dustin Johnson. Most notably, it’s led him to be quite vocal about his disdain for slow play. So when Koepka was drawn to play with J.B. Holmes, a golfer well known for playing at a snail’s pace, the emergence of some sort of mid-tournament beef seemed inevitable.
The first true sign of the two contrasting personalities came at the end of the 6th hole. After finally getting into a rhythm—Koepka started his day off with four straight bogeys before sinking an eagle on the 5th—the world No. 1 had to wait as Holmes took a, uhh, patient approach to preparing for his double-bogey putt that he’d eventually miss. The brief shot of the body language on Koepka (yellow sweater) kind of tells the whole story.
It didn’t stop there, of course, with Koepka at one point pretty much demanding that officials do something about his sluggish partner.
Koepka’s sanity somehow stayed intact enough to properly address his playing situation, even after it took his partner 87 shots to finish the course in today’s round. He did his best to address slow play as an overall problem without singling out Holmes—even somewhat praising his playing partner at one point—but most of his positive statements seemed backhanded at best.
“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.”
Koepka, who started the final round in third place at 10 under and ended it in fourth at six under, even did that humble thing that athletes do where they acknowledge their losing efforts are no one’s fault but their own.
“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.”
But it doesn’t matter how many mature comments he makes after the fact. At the end of the day, no amount of canned statements can take away the fact that he was very clearly on the edge of losing his mind while playing alongside someone who captures the antithesis of what he believes good golf should be.