Brooks Koepka: 78 to 64 in a day

We only have partial scores in the Honda Classic because two rain delays totaling almost four hours in Palm Beach Gardens pushed the entire afternoon wave up against darkness. They’ll have to finish up beginning at 7:30 Saturday morning.

The morning wave is done and Brooks Koepka turned in the most dramatic turnaround we’ve seen thus far. It will be hard to match.

Playing on Friday with Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, he got the worst of it, posting an 8-over 78. McIlroy shot 73 and Johnson 77. 

But Friday was another day, as they say, and Koepka took full advantage of it. With the wind subdued somewhat to 10 to 20 miles per hour, he knocked out 8 birdies against 2 bogeys and “shocked the world!” Well, certainly those paying close attention to the Honda Classic. Starting on the back nine, he was none to pleased when he bogeyed 11:

I really wasn’t very happy after that.  That [happened], then we had the whole delay thing, so I wasn’t too excited but I grinded it out.

So what “grinded it out” looked like was that he came out of the rain delay with back-to-back birdies to get it to 1-under…and then bogeyed 16 to wash it all away. But another birdie on 17 proved he wasn’t giving up and a “stupid” birdie on 18 proved he really wasn’t giving up. He hit his approach shot way left into the stands, got a drop, hit it to 22 feet and then made it for birdie:

It was funny, I actually thought it was really funny.  It [figuring out his drop] took forever.  It took about ten minutes all in total, but I guess you could say it was kind of the kick start that I needed.

The birdie at 17 was actually big.  Even yesterday I felt like I didn’t play too bad, but shot 8‑over, so I guess 14 strokes’ difference is quite a lot.

But still, being just 2-under on the day wasn’t going to be enough to make the cut, but that birdie on 18 was so electric, it fired him up for four birdies on the back:

Three great players, no matter what the score is the day before, if they play bad, they are going to come out and they are going to take it to the golf course and they are going to play well, and that’s what I tried to do.

That only turned out to be true for him. McIlroy and Johnson continued to struggle. McIlroy shot 74 to get to 7-over and Johnson 75 to get to 12. McIlroy was still trying to figure out what hit him:

Yeah, I guess after coming off a three‑week break, and then felt a little — just a little, I wouldn’t say rusty, but just not quite on top of my game yesterday.

And then today, I mean, I felt like I was trying to get something going and couldn’t.  Coming off three weeks off and playing in conditions like these, it sort of shows you where your game’s at.  Just got to regroup and put some work in and get ready for Miami next week.

And so while he missed the cut, he’s definitely looking forward:

Yeah, I mean, I felt after the birdie on 5, it gave me a chance to at least be here for the weekend and then two bogeys on 6 and 7 just sort of put any thought of that to bed so obviously not what I wanted this week but don’t feel like it’s too far away.

You just forget about it and move on to next week.

That’s what the great ones do. Circumstantial train wrecks don’t change their sense of themselves; they just move on. With Johnson having finished T4 at Pebble and P2 in LA, you know he’s got to be thinking the same way too.

McIlroy, in particular, is looking forward to the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral next week because it’s a small field with no cut; everybody gets in four competitive rounds in a quality field.

And Augusta is right around the corner.

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