(Reuters) – Defending champion Brooks Koepka shook off a poor run of form to win last year’s Phoenix Open and said on Wednesday he hopes a return to one of his happy hunting grounds this week will be the perfect tonic for his recent slump.
The four-times major champion has missed three cuts in six PGA Tour events this season but is full of confidence this week at TPC Scottsdale, the same layout where he earned the first title of his career.
“I always like coming back to this place, good memories. You know, I feel like I have been playing pretty good recently. Just a few kinks we worked out,” Koepka told reporters.
“I’m excited. I feel like I’m striking it well, putting it well, doing everything I need to do. You’ve got the good memories here, and I guess the feels I get on this golf course I feel comfortable on it. So hoping for a good week.”
Koepka arrived at last year’s Phoenix Open coming off three consecutive missed cuts and entered the final round trailing by five strokes but closed with a 65 to secure a one-shot victory over Xander Schauffele and South Korean K.H. Lee.
World number 20 Koepka will have his work cut out at TPC Scottsdale this year given a deep field that features six of the top 10 golfers in the rankings, the most since 2003, and 99 PGA Tour winners.
“I love this golf course, man. It suits me down to the ground. I think you see a lot of guys that hit it long and fade it, play well here. Martin Laird has always had a good track record here,” said Koepka.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s a bomber’s paradise. If you can put the ball in play, you can make some good scores.”
Koepka will play the opening two rounds alongside 2019 U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland and Mexican Abraham Ancer.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)