Brooks Koepka’s return to competitive action didn’t go quite according to plan as he prepares for this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
While it’s the American’s second consecutive appearance in this event after a top 10 last year, it’s his first event back after having surgery on his knee – and his week in the Middle East began by being beaten in a practice round by 15-year-old Josh Hill.
Hill, who you may remember became the youngest ever player to win an Official World Golf Ranking event in October, has earned his place in the field on the main tour and Koepka was full of praise for the teenager.
“Josh is a good player,” the World No. 1 said. “He beat me in an eight-hole match yesterday – which I’m sure he enjoyed.
“He asked good questions, I thought that was important. If I was in his shoes, I’d have been afraid to ask, he’s really mature for his age.
“He’s a good player, he putts it really well, his short game’s really good, he strikes it really well but the questions he was asking – how to handle the week, how to go about being aggressive, when to attack things and when to not.
“I gave him some advice on how to play it a little bit.”
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Koepka suffered a freak injury at the CJ Cup and was forced to withdraw before a ball was hit. The injury also saw him pull out of Tiger Woods’ victorious Presidents Cup side and end his 2019 on the physio bed.
But Koepka appears healthy again and is one of several Americans to have made the trip to the Middle East for the European Tour’s first Rolex Series event of the season.
“When you have something you love and it’s taken away from you, I think it makes you appreciate it more and really enjoy being out here,” he explained.
“I miss competition. I’ve missed showing up to an event preparing for something, because I haven’t had anything to prepare for.
“When you have three months off, it’s not fun, I know that. But it makes me appreciate the game more every time and hopefully I don’t have any more of those situations.”
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