Brooks Koepka faces tough test at Pebble Beach for US Open defence

Rich Beem looks at why Pebble Beach could prove a tough test for Brooks Koepka and assesses Rory McIlroy’s major hopes.

You have to be mentally tough to be able to accomplish what Brooks Koepka has done, which is shown by the way the talks about his game and the way he goes into majors.

You don’t go into defend any tournament, especially at a major, and really have the confidence Brooks Koepka is talking about, other than maybe Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

He’s backing it up and he knows what the game plan is. That plan is not to beat all of the players in the field, it’s to beat a certain number of players because the other guys are going to take care of themselves. When you have the mindset he does, you’re in a different league.

This week is going to be significantly different to the four majors he has won, because of the fact that the fairways are not miles wide and precise tee shots are going to be required.

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I wouldn’t be surprised to see Koepka not taking out driver a lot of times, just like a lot of the other longer players, so he’s going to have to work it differently off the tee.

Unlike his other major wins at Erin Hills, Bellerive, Shinnecock Hills and Bethpage, it’s just not that wide off the tee, so he’s not going to be able to take advantage of his length in the same way.

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McIlroy’s major hopes

There are very few players who have the opportunity to beat Rory McIlroy when he is at the top of his game, but Koepka nor nobody else was going to do that in Canada last week.

What he did in that final round, to play with that much freedom to demoralise the rest of the field and the golf course with the driver, was simply sensational.

Whatever level of golf you’re playing, even back in junior golf, you just don’t play with that much freedom and it’s hard to play when you’re sitting on a lead like he was.

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For him to go out there and do that tells the rest of us that his golf game is in really good shape and everything right now screams that he’s ready to win another major.

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