Koepka reacts to criticism from 'Captain America'

1 month ago 11
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US golf star Brooks Koepka reassured fans he was "good to go" for the Ryder Cup, despite doubts surrounding his willingness to participate in the prestigious event.

Koepka told Golf Digest that Ryder Cup week is hectic and "a bit odd" because it takes him from his individual routine and leaves him no time to decompress.

It was enough to make former US captain Paul Azinger wonder if Koepka should even play next week.

"I'm not sure he loves the Ryder Cup that much," Azinger said during a conference call for NBC Sports, where he now serves as the lead golf analyst. "If he doesn't love it, he should relinquish his spot and get people there who do love the Ryder Cup."

But Koepka then told Golf Week that he is still ready and raring to go for the unique tournament, even if it is alongside his foe Bryson DeChambeau, with the pair set to be USA teammates.

"I'll be there. I'm good to go," Koepka, who has been battling some wrist pain, told the magazine.

"I'm feeling good. Been doing my rehab, doing everything I need to do to be ready for the Cup. I'll be there ready to play."

Brooks Koepka (Getty)

For Azinger, the Ryder Cup is personal.

He played four times and is best known for his dispute with Seve Ballesteros and an epic battle with Nick Faldo in 1993 that led to a draw. Azinger also was known as "Captain America" in 2008 when he introduced a pod system to get the players more invested. The US wound up beating Europe at Valhalla that year.

Koepka never said in the wide-ranging Golf Digest interview that he didn't like the Ryder Cup. He has played on the last two teams, and even competed on an badly injured ankle in the 2016 PGA Championship in a bid to qualify for the team, which he did.

"I don't want to say it's a bad week," Koepka told Golf Digest in a Q&A. "We're just so individualised, and everybody has their routine and a different way of doing things, and now, it's like, OK, we have to have a meeting at this time or go do this or go do that. It's the opposite of what happens during a major week."

Bryson DeChambeau and Brooke Koepka/ (Getty)

Koepka has back-to-back wins in the US Open and the PGA Championship and has a reputation for playing his best in the majors. He does his own thing and says it's important to switch off when he's not playing.

The Ryder Cup is different.

"It's tough," Koepka said. "There are times where I'm like, 'I won my match. I did my job. What do you want from me?' I know how to take responsibility for the shots I hit every week. Now, somebody else hit a bad shot and left me in a bad spot, and I know this hole is a loss. That's new, and you have to change the way you think about things.

"You go from an individual sport all the time to a team sport one week a year," he said. "It's so far from my normal routine."

Some of his comments reflected the thinking of Rory McIlroy, who has played every match since his first Ryder Cup in 2010. McIlroy was asked about the team concept two weeks ago at the Tour Championship.

"You can be all buddy-buddy, try to be the best teammate you can," McIlroy said. "At the end of the day, I want to go out and win my point. That's all I can do. I'm a professional golfer, and by nature, I'm pretty selfish, and there's no point in not being selfish in that.

"The best thing you can do to be a team player is win your point."

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