Koepka enters Open unsatisfied despite success

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland -- Brooks Koepka is the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world and has won four of the past 10 major championships.

This season, he won a second straight PGA Championship, tied for second in the Masters and was solo second at the U.S. Open. At the 148th playing of The Open at Royal Portrush this week, he has a chance to become the first player in PGA Tour history to finish first or second in each of the four majors in the same season.

Yet Koepka isn't completely satisfied with his historic run.

"I hold myself to high expectations," Koepka said. "The whole reason I show up is to win. That's what I'm trying to do. ... It's incredible but at the same time it's been quite disappointing. Finishing second sucks, it really does."

Koepka had a chance to win the Masters, but he had a double-bogey 5 on the par-3 12th hole at Augusta National and then missed birdie putts on Nos. 16, 17 and 18 to finish one shot behind winner Tiger Woods.

At the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June, Koepka had four straight rounds under 70 while trying to defend his title, but he finished three shots behind first-time major winner Gary Woodland.

"You've just got to get over it and kind of realize that any time you put yourself in contention, you learn from it and move on," Koepka said. "I made a mistake there at 12 at Augusta. It really wasn't that big of a mistake, the wind direction, for four out of six guys to put the ball in the water, everybody knows that the wind does whatever it wants on that hole and you just get unlucky.

"And then at the U.S. Open, I just got flat-out beat. Sometimes that's going to happen. You've just got to get over it and move on."

Koepka has had mixed results at The Open, finishing tied for 39th at Carnoustie last year and tied for sixth at Royal Birkdale in 2017 most recently.

Koepka might have a big advantage at Royal Portrush this week because his caddie, Ricky Elliott, grew up in the Northern Ireland coastal village and played the links course as a junior. Koepka met Elliott's parents and visited the house where he grew up earlier this week.

Elliott started carrying Koepka's bag at the 2013 PGA Championship and has been with him for each of his major championship victories.

"He's been great," Koepka said. "He keeps it light. He knows not to talk about golf while we're out there. He knows if I'm getting a little bit tense, maybe upset, angry, whatever it is, he can tell just by my walk. He can tell, just body language and I think that's what makes a great caddie. A lot of times he'll tell me to slow down, slow my walk. If I get angry, my walk just gets a little bit quicker.

"And then under pressure he knows exactly what to say at the right time, and that's what you want in a caddie. And I wouldn't want anybody else on my bag, I know that. He's been tremendous. He's part of the reason why I've had the success I've had. And I love the guy to death."

Elliott's course knowledge is a coveted commodity. Woods said he texted Koepka after the U.S. Open to congratulate him on another strong finish in a major. Woods also inquired about playing a practice round with Koepka at Royal Portrush.

"I said, 'Hey, dude, do you mind if I tag along and play a practice round?'" Woods said. "I've heard nothing."

For obvious reasons, winning The Open for the first time would mean as much to Elliott as Koepka.

"There would be nothing cooler," Koepka said. "Put it this way, I don't think when he grew up that he ever thought there would be an Open Championship here.

"And to top it off, I don't think he ever thought he'd be a part of it. And to be caddying and to be able to win one here would be -- he'd be a legend, wouldn't he? He already is. But it would be cool to see him win."