AUGUSTA, Ga. — After brooks koepka missing the cut at the Masters for the second year in a row in April 2022, he took his frustration out on his courtesy car in the parking lot of Augusta National Golf Club.
“I don’t even know if I should say this, but I’m pretty sure I tried to break the rear window with my fist,” Koepka said Friday. “I tried to put it through the rear window not once, but twice. The first time it didn’t work, so I thought I’d try again. Yeah, it was a lot of frustration last year. Super annoying.
“The ride home was pretty quiet. I think just a lot of frustration. But yeah, I guess Mercedes does a pretty good hatchback.”
Local dealers won’t have to worry about their luxury cars this year.
Koepka, a four-time Grand Slam champion, shot a 5-under 67 in Friday’s second round to move to 12-under after 36 holes at the 87th Masters. He has a three stroke advantage over jon rahmwho was still on the field when the game was called off for weather, and four hits on the fan sam bennett from Texas A&M, which finished at 8 under par.
Rahm was at No. 10 when the air horn blew a second time Friday to stop play after a 21-minute delay earlier in the afternoon. Multiple tall pine trees fell near customers just before the second stoppage, without anyone being injured, and it was decided to suspend the second round until 8 am on Saturday.
Victor Hovland (6 low), cameron young (5 low) and tiger forest (2 more) were among the 39 players who did not complete the second round, with the cut line currently projected at 2 more.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Koepka tied for the third-lowest score from 36 holes to par in Masters history. Only Jordan Spieth (14-under 2015) and Raymond Floyd (13-under 1976) had better scores after the first two rounds. CEO and curator of LIV Golf greg norman he was also 12 under in 1996; he was the only player of the trio who failed to win.
Koepka’s track record of holding a lead in the majors suggests it will be tough for anyone to chase him down the weekend. He previously held the 36-hole or 54-hole lead at five majors and won four times: at the US Open in 2017 and 2018 and at the PGA Championship in 2018 and 2019. He failed to hold a second-round lead at the 2019 Masters and tied for second behind tiger forest.
Back then, Koepka would appear at the majors with swagger and the confidence that no one could beat him. For the past two years, he has been a shell of himself after dislocating and breaking his right kneecap in a fall in March 2021. Surgeons told him it would take him 18 months to make a full recovery.
“I’ve come a long way since then,” Koepka said. “A lot of it, it’s almost all related to health.”
Koepka, 32, even wondered if he would play again. He said his health was one of the reasons he joined the LIV Golf circuit in June. He reportedly received a guaranteed signing bonus of over $100 million.
“Honestly, yeah, probably, if I’m being completely honest,” Koepka said when asked by a reporter if his decision to leave the PGA Tour would have been more difficult if he had been healthy. “I think it would have been. But I’m happy with the decision I made.”
The 23-year-old Bennett, a native of Madisonville, Texas, had back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes en route to a second straight 68, narrowly missing the 36-hole Masters amateur record of 9 under set. by Ken Venturi in 1956.
“I love being in big situations,” Bennett told ESPN after his round. “I love to be nervous. I use that to my advantage…I love to make shots when they matter. To get two rounds and have a chance to go into the weekend, it’s going to be fun.”
After winning the LIV Golf League tournament in Orlando, Florida, last week, Koepka once again looks like the player who usually won or finished in the top five at the majors. In the first two rounds of the Masters, he hit 29 of 36 greens, needed 57 putts and went 6 of 7 scrambling. He’s a combined 7-under-5, even after bogeying the 13th hole Thursday. He had three birdies and an eagle at par 5 on Friday.
“He’s been playing well,” said the three-time Masters winner. Phil Mickelson, another LIV Golf player. “He won last week. He’s had some momentum. [The] The greens were difficult last week. They were fast. As fast as this, if not faster. He had good touch on the greens. You knew I was going to have a good week.”
Because LIV Golf players have not received world ranking points for their results in that circuit’s tournaments in the past two seasons, Koepka has slipped to 118th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His last major victory was at the 2019 PGA Championship, which gave him a five-year bye for the Masters, which ends next year.
Unless the OWGR begins to recognize LIV Golf events, it will be hard for Koepka to get back in the top 50, which is another way to earn an invite to Augusta National Golf Club every year.
Of course, the best path to entering the Masters each year is to win a green jacket, which comes with a lifetime exemption. Koepka will join just 19 men who have won at least five majors if he can hang on this weekend.
“Yeah, if you play well enough, you should still be in the top 50, if you play well enough in all the majors,” Koepka said. “But yeah, if you win one here, it’s a bit [of] It ticks a lot of boxes, doesn’t it?”
With cooler weather, rain and wind on Saturday, Mickelson said there is still a lot of work for Koepka to do.
“A lot of crazy things happen here,” Mickelson said. “We see a lot of low scores and then we see a lot of guys go back, which you never know. I wouldn’t expect that from him, he’s playing very well, but I also think there’s a low round there from other players.
“If things aren’t going well, it’s not the easiest golf course to shoot 3-4 under. You can keep it around par, but if you’re not playing golf very well, it’s hard to keep it in the 60s. So the Guys can catch it if they get hot.”
Associated Press contributed to this report.