CHARLOTTE, North Carolina: Long-hitting Brooks Koepka left a marshal nursing a sore head after striking him with a towering shot during an opening-round 68 at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow on Thursday.
Koepka, who overpowered Erin Hills to win the US Open two months ago, said he would check on the marshal after he finished his round one stroke behind early co-leaders Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark and fellow American Kevin Kisner.
“This golf course, it’s a bomber’s paradise I think,” said the muscular Koepka. “There’s some lines we can take over some trees. Number two, I just take it up over the tree. You can take a short line into a bunch of them.
“Like I hit a pitching wedge into number one today. I’m pretty sure a bunch of guys are going to be hitting a six-, maybe five-iron into that hole,” he said.
“Length is a key factor out here, and especially when it’s as wet as it is, it makes those fairways a bit wider,” Koepka added, noting how the ball tends to stop near its landing spot.
He blasted shots all around Quail Hollow, including the one that unfortunately landed on the marshal at the 16th hole.
“He was fine. Well, I shouldn’t say fine. He just got drilled in the head,” said Koepka.
“I felt terrible about it. I mean, that’s never fun to walk up and see somebody you just drilled. To be honest with you, I felt like crap.”
The marshal at least appeared to be OK by the time Koepka reached him.
“He was laughing and joking when I was up there, kept telling me, ‘You got a good break.’
“I got his information so I’ll probably reach out to him tonight and see how he’s doing,” Koepka said. “I’m sure he’s going to have quite a big headache.”
Koepka, who started at the 10th, carded his first bogey of the day at that par-four hole as he made the turn in level par. The American then took advantage of the other nine, posting four birdies and a bogey to finish three-under.
He hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation as he averaged nearly 314 yards on drives, including a longest one of 344.
“I felt like I played really well,” said Koepka, who added that he would have gone even lower if some of the putts on good lines he hit had found the cup.” — REUTERS