CROMWELL - After winning his second consecutive US Open championship this past Sunday at Shinnecock, there might have been a question if Brooks Koepka would play this week at the Travelers Championship. But for Koepka, skipping this event never crossed his mind.
“No, no, this was always on the schedule,” Koepka said when asked if he considered not playing here. “I had three months off in the beginning of the season, so this was a place we wanted to come. I knew I was going to play here. I committed to coming, so I'm not going to back out.”
Koepka didn’t have his best day on the course Thursday, shooting a 2-under 68 after teeing off at 8 a.m., but still found himself within five shots of leaders Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson.
“I feel like I played a lot better than the score kind of reflected,” Koepka said. “It was nice to get off to a good start. I'm still kind of going on adrenaline right now, but I'll be honest, I'm dead right now. I think it showed kind of coming in. Just exhausted.”
Koepka showed no ill effects from his whirlwind week over his first nine holes Thursday. Teeing off on the 10th hole to start, the US Open champ birdied four of the first five holes and finished his opening nine 4-under. The following nine provided a much different result, however.
Koepka birdied the second and parred the third, but went on to bogey four of the next six holes, shooting two-over on holes 1-9.
“Yeah, I just ran out of gas,” Koepka said of his finish. “I'm exhausted mentally. I'm excited to go home and nap. But it just feels good to be back out playing. I'm still playing well, so I'm not too worried about today.”
Koepka’s round was saved on holes 11 through 14, as he birdied all four to offset what would become a rough back nine.
“Well, you really can attack the flag on those holes,” he said. “You get a wedge into 11. It feels like you've got a lot of wedges on this golf course, and you can really take advantage of it. The back nine is obviously a little easier than the front. The front is a little tougher. It's got some holes where you're trying to make some pars and get through it. But the back nine you've got some very good opportunities.”
Koepka came through on those opportunities in a big way, putting himself well within in the mix heading into Friday’s second round.
“It's a great golf course. I love this tournament. It's fun,” Koepka said. “It's nice to see some birdies and some red numbers this week.”