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You’d have to go back a while in Brooks Koepka’s career to find a rut as big as the one he’s in now.
In his last three PGA Tour events, the three-time major champion has missed the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, finished tied for 56th at The Players Championship and tied for 56th again at the WGC-Dell Match Play. The last time the 28-year-old finished outside the top 50 three times in a row was 2013.
Koepka hasn’t been completely out of it this year — he came in second at The Honda Classic just a month ago — but his recent stretch is not something you want to see when the Masters kicks off on Thursday.
While golfers run into trouble all the time for any number of reasons, there’s apparently one very significant factor that has been popping up while analyzing Koepka’s struggles: He’s reportedly playing down 24 pounds from his usual weight.
Brooks Koepka’s significant weight loss
After Koepka finished 14 strokes back from Rory McIlroy at The Players Championship, he told the Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner he had dropped 24 pounds since November and gave some rather cryptic answers when pressed for why he did it:
“You’ll see,” he said after the final round of The Players. “After Wednesday I’ll be fine.”
Over the past few months Koepka has been training twice a day, running and eating healthier.
“More of everything,” he said.
Except food, apparently.
“I just want to be able to eat again,” he said. “I’m going to put it back on. I just want to eat normal and not train as hard. Everything has been double the intensity, double the time.”
Koepka estimated his weight to about 190 pounds, well short of his usual 210+ pounds.
That weight loss has apparently sapped the power from Koepka’s usually fearsome drive. Per Lavner, Koepka said that he was driving about 10-12 yards shorter off the tee and dropped from ninth on the Tour in strokes gained to 46th.
Koepka, whose strength is usually his greatest asset on the course, went into more detail of how he’s approached the weight loss on Tuesday during a media conference ahead of the Masters, saying that he had some tests done and wasn’t going through any lingering health issues.
Via Awful Announcing:
No. No lingering. It’s all quick fixes. Should be back to everything in a couple weeks. Just had a bunch of blood work and trying to figure out what was going on. Kind of — I mean, the diet I was on was probably not the best. I was like 1,800 calories a day. I mean, you’re not going to be in the best physical shape at that point. You look at somebody like Michael Phelps or somebody like that eating 6,000 or 7,000 calories by lunch time. But I wanted to do it and try to lose some weight, and maybe went about it a little too aggressively for just a long period of time and the intensity of what I was doing.
So this all leaves one big question. He might have done it too intensely or stayed underweight for too much time, but Koepka very clearly intended to lose quite a bit of weight. Why would a power hitter like Koepka purposefully drop so many pounds?
Luckily, there seems to be an answer to that floating around, and it does not reflect well on Koepka.
Is Brooks Koepka really doing all this for ESPN’s The Body Issue?
That’s right, there is a very good chance Koepka slimmed down so he could look good while posing nude in ESPN’s The Body Issue.
In a preview of Koepka’s Masters bid, Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch cited “reports” that Koepka will appear in The Body Issue later this summer:
One possible reason for Koepka’s intense effort to get lean: According to reports, the famously buff golfer will appear in the buff in ESPN’s Body Issue, which will be released later this summer.
If that’s true, and Koepka is really sacrificing his power to look good in a magazine, this whole situation would be absolutely, laughably ridiculous.
Even going beyond the idea of a pro athlete literally valuing looks over performance, the stated mission of The Body Issue is literally “to celebrate the incredible power of the athletic form.” Koepka’s level of weight loss goes against that entire mission statement.
One Golf Channel commentator, former pro Brandel Chamblee, lambasted the idea during Masters coverage:
“For him to change his body, and his body chemistry, for vanity reasons, for a vanity shoot, is the most reckless self-sabotage that I have ever seen of an athlete in his prime,” Chamblee said.
Of course, ESPN and Koepka haven’t even confirmed the golfer will indeed be in the magazine. The issue’s roster is usually revealed some time in April, and rarely has there been a bigger question to answer than the one Koepka’s appearance would present.
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