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How US Open champion Koepka nearly called it quits

Golf

LONDON - "He’s slept in his car, he’s done everything on the way up. He’s slept in a B&B with four of us and struggled along the way. It’s helped him appreciate where he is."

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Brooks Koepka holds up U.S. Open trophy after his victory on Sunday. Photo:: Rob Schumacher-USA Today Sports

Irish caddie Ricky Elliott gives some background on his boss — new US Open Champion Brooks Koepka.

With the US Open trophy cradled in his arms, it was the perfect moment to look back at far how he had come. For Brooks Koepka, that meant recalling the day he almost quit.

He was playing in Scotland in a Challenge Tour event and the ultimate Boy’s Own travelling adventure had turned sour.

He had been swimming with sharks in South Africa, eaten horse meat in Kazakhstan, but now had no appetite for another day on the golf course even if he was leading with a round to go.

"I just called my manager and told him that I didn’t even want to play," he recalled. "I was just tired of golf and tired of the travelling. I just wanted to go home."

Koekpa has cause to be eternally grateful his manager, Blake Smith, talked him round. He went out and won the next day to earn a battling promotion to the European Tour, from where he has never looked back. 

A close friend of Dustin Johnson, the Floridian possesses the same natural athleticism and laid-back demeanour and came into the US Open with a renewed focus. "I know I played well in the Ryder Cup last year and had won a few times around the world but I just felt like I was an underachiever," he admitted.

"I couldn’t stand the fact I’d only won once on the PGA Tour. I’ve worked so hard over the past six months to try to put that right. I just couldn’t get my mind to free up. But I’m past that now."

Like Johnson, there’s never been any questions regarding Koepka’s talent.

Now he’s in the right frame of mind, it would surprise no one if he went on a similar run to the world No 1 after he broke through at the US Open last year.

"I set my sights pretty high and I’m hoping this will be the first of many majors," said Koepka, who has now broken into the coveted world top 10.

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