Brooks Koepka is the Anti-Hero Professional Golf Desperately Needs
Professional Golf perhaps more than any other Professional Sport outside maybe NASCAR is in dire need of a new hero.
The game needs someone to be the new focal point of attention, the guy everyone wants to but can't beat.
Golf desperately needs Brooks Koepka.
You can give me your Tiger Woods this and Tiger Woods that all day long, Tiger Woods circa 2019 bears little to no resemblance to the guy who did exactly what Koepka is now doing some 20 years ago. Yeah, sure, a 40-plus year old, balding, much less intense version of Tiger won the Masters--it was a great story, but don't put money on that happening again. Maybe he wins some more, maybe he doesn't. But it will be a "Lightning in a Bottle" kind of moment from here on in.
There are plenty of "New Names" in the game, all of whom are seriously talented and can win at any time. None of them have the potential to dominate the headlines like Koepka.
Seriously---the dude has won 4 Major Titles in the past two years--and there are two more left in 2019 as I write this. He's coming off a week where he led the PGA Championship from wire to wire after an opening round 66 at the notoriously nasty Bethpage Black in New York.
Yeah, sure, nerves started to get the best of him late in his final round on Sunday, but he was so far ahead it really didn't matter.
I read a story online that said Koepka is the monster spawned by Tiger Woods. And really, it was a pretty legit argument. Tiger in his prime (he's not anymore), was bigger and stronger and more intense than anyone else playing at the time. He could hit if farther, overpowering courses and was creative in his short game, producing some unbelievable shots you almost felt he was ordering to go in.
Brooks Koepka is 29 and according to most---the most fit guy on the tour. He drives the ball further than nearly anyone--he hit a 350-yarder late in Sunday's 4th round at the PGA that was an absolute bomb that split the fairway in half. He does the little things in his short game which allows him the ability to not always be exact in driving the ball. I mean heck, if you are playing a 425 yard par 4 and hit your drive 340, you've got an 85-yard approach to the pin. If you have any skill or touch at all, it's almost a slam dunk.
The thing about Koepka is that he rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Quotes about dominating the game, expecting to easily win double-digit Majors and talking smack about his competitors irritate a lot of fans. The emotionless, restless attack mode on the course makes them say he is no fun. But how can you not appreciate a guy who hits bombs and completely mows down anyone who gets in his way.
The only flaw thus far is the guys ability to finish majors. He was in contention at this years Masters, but Amen Corner bit him in the ass. And his monstrous 7-shot lead in the PGA melted on Sunday down to one-shot on the back 9. He'd later regroup to finish strong and get the win.
Listen---I'm not saying he could be the next big thing, but he's as good a candidate as anyone. Golf desperately needs someone to be the next Tiger. Sure, the 43-year old Woods and 45-year old Phil Mickelson makes great theater and allows the older fans to wax nostalgic---but if the game wants to remain in the public conversation, it desperately needs someone who the 20 and 30 somethings can identify with.
People my age and in my demographic will tune in and cheer for Woods and Mickelson without a second thought. But we aren't---or shouldn't be the people the USGA and PGA should be trying to get in the fold. Those who are in my demo are either already golf fans or will never be. Golf needs a newer, younger generation to get on board and throwing guys their dad's age out there as the face of the game ain't going to cut it.
So why not a guy who is young, powerful, potentially dominant and gets the things the younger generations get about communicating via Social Media?? Why not a guy who speaks his mind even if it isn't what us older folks want to hear? Anti-heroes work in sports. Brooks Koepka is the perfect guy to assume that role.