U.S. Open 2019: Why Brooks Koepka is no fan of the Pebble Beach driving range

June 14, 2019

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Brooks Koepka is off to a hot start at Pebble Beach in his U.S. Open title defense — but he’s no fan of the driving range.

Koepka finished up his second consecutive round of two-under 69 on Friday, well inside the top 10 on his way to the weekend. But he had some interesting things to say about his ballstriking after the round.

“I’ll be honest with you, I struck it so poorly Monday and Wednesday. I wasn’t playing good. And then it’s been nice to kind of find some confidence, especially on the golf course,” Koepka said. One reason for that confidence eroding? The driving range setup at Pebble Beach.

Koepka says he’s been hitting it thin after some sessions at the practice area.

“This range doesn’t quite help. [The wind is] going into and off the left. It’s in a direction I hate.,” Koepka said. “The turf on the range is a little firmer, a little tighter than it is on the golf course.”

“And it’s been easier to find my game actually on the golf course,” Koepka continued. “I feel like I can really be down on the ball, come in a little bit steeper than it is the range. The range is—I don’t know what it is. So I’m not going to hit balls today.”

It’s worth noting that Koepka’s feeling of hitting it poorly does not bear out in the statistics. Midway through Friday afternoon’s round, he was tied for the lead in strokes gained: approach, 5.81 shots better than the field average.

Koepka made it clear that those qualms do not extend to the golf course, offering praise for Pebble Beach. “I don’t think there’s a better place to win the U.S. Open. Pebble is probably—that finishing hole is the greatest hole in golf.”

For much of his round, Koepka lingered around even par for the day. He birdied 16 but bogeyed 17, then made all pars until back-to-back birdies at 6 and 7.

Koepka was tied for 7th as the morning wave finished play on Friday. The two-time defending champ sits three shots off the lead of Justin Rose.

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