The Masters: 'Once you feel good, everything changes' – Healthy Koepka excited by bright start

By Sports Desk April 06, 2023

Brooks Koepka feels he is finally back to full health following a serious knee injury that had crippled him over the past two years, claiming a share of the lead after Thursday's opening round at the Masters.

Koepka, a four-time major champion, shot four birdies on his front-nine and four more on his back-nine to go with a solitary bogey in an impressive seven-under 65.

There were warning signs that the 32-year-old may be in for a good week, coming off a victory at LIV Golf Orlando where Koepka became the new tour's first ever two-time winner.

His performance this time was in stark contrast to his efforts at the last two editions of the Masters, where Koepka missed the cut both times, but he told the media after his round that his health made those years complete write-offs.

He shared details of the darkest moments from his recovery, where he could barely get out of bed, and would be in tears while biting down on a towel as his physical therapist tried to bend his knee.

"I just wrote the last two years [at the Masters] off," he said. "I came here three weeks after surgery [in 2021], and last year I wasn't anywhere near it, but I'm healthy now, I've put that behind me, and I'm not too worried about the last two years.

"It's all injury-based. Any athlete, anybody that's going through something where you can't even bend your knee. 

"I'll spare everybody the details of what actually happened – it was pretty gruesome, right – and they told me I could have a surgery that would be pretty much a year and a half [recovery time].

"Then you create bad habits, and there's frustration, and you just feel like you're never going to be healthy.

"I wish I had celebrated the kind of little milestones along the way, instead of thinking I could just power through it… so yeah, it was definitely frustrating, but once you feel good, everything changes."

He said he realised early that he was in for a great day after making a sharp start on a course that was "quite gettable".

"Honestly I think it was just the start," he said. "I got off to a good start – any time you're two under through three it's a good start – so I felt good, and I just kind of piggybacked off that momentum.

"I'm very happy with the way I played. I drove the ball nicely, left it in some good spots, and even missed quite a few putts… it could've been really low, but I'll take it. Seven's pretty good."

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    Aberg, Pavon and Cantlay were among the leaders as Friday's action drew to a close, with Bryson DeChambeau one shot ahead of McIlroy, alongside Thomas Detry.

    DeChambeau had a typically eventful round by mixing four bogeys with five birdies, the last of which saw him finish with a flourish on the 18th.

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    PGA Championship winner Xander Schauffele is at one-under after posting a 69, but it was a tougher day for world number one Scottie Sheffler, who faces an anxious wait to see whether he made the cut after ending Friday five-over. 

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