Brooks Koepka once again looking to bully his way to win in a major tournament | D'Angelo

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Brooks Koepka prides himself on bullying and intimidating, and, yes, disrespecting opponents when it comes to major championships.

The Palm Beach County native has boasted how he's "built a little bit different," and knows he will "mentally outlast everybody, especially when it’s very difficult."

But that didn't go so well at the Masters last month. The five-time major champion barely made the cut before finishing 45th. That's when Koepka's team, led by Ara Suppiah, stepped in and humbled the 34-year-old who is as self-assured as he is good.

Time for "punishment workouts."

"I walked in and Ara told me that, 'You finished 45th; you're going to get penalized,'" Koepka said Wednesday after playing a practice round at Valhalla in preparation for Thursday's start to the PGA Championship.

"It sucks. It's not a lot of fun. A lot more running. Very up-tempo, no rest."

This will surprise no one, but Brooks Koepka is chirping once again ahead of a major. His confidence was restored following those punishment workouts and two strong outings on LIV Golf, the Saudi Arabia-backed league that features no-cut, 54-hole events with limited fields.

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Brooks Koepka hoists the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club. (Photo: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports)
Brooks Koepka hoists the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club. (Photo: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports)

Every golfer in this week's PGA Championship field is driven, especially those who make a living on the PGA Tour. They, like all professional athletes, are a different breed.

But Koepka is even different from his peers. He is brutally honest about how he finds it difficult to take non-majors as seriously as he does those events on the biggest stage.

And unapologetic.

"I've heard from the people around me, it's just different," he said. "Like my demeanor and focus is just different. I can't explain it. I don't really know how to or what I really do different. But everybody on the team can kind of see it and they kind of know I can walk right past them and I don't even know that they are there sometimes (during the week of a major).

"It's just it's a grinding week. You've got to be fully locked in. I feel like you can't take one shot off. I love that. It's always, you're one shot away from making a double bogey and that's what I love."

The record supports that focus going from middling to laserlike the week of a major.

In 37 starts in major championships, Koepka has won five, or close to 15%.

In 142 starts in non-majors, he has won four, or just under 3%.

Koepka is one of 20 golfers with at least five major championships. He trails Tiger Woods (15) and Phil Mickelson (six) among active golfers.

“Honestly, I’m just built a little bit different," he told Golf Monthly in October. "It’s just being mentally better. Look at Tiger. He was just mentally better than everybody else. If you know you can mentally beat everybody, and have more discipline, that plays a huge part. I know I will mentally outlast everybody, especially when it’s very difficult."

That does not mean he will win every one or even be near the top of every one. But when he's not, it is rare.

During one stretch from mid-2017 until injury affected his play and sapped him of all his confidence in 2022, Koepka played in 13 majors, winning four, with eight top fives and 11 top 10s.

That is Tiger- and Scottie Scheffler-like dominance.

The difference is Tiger and Scottie carried that unbeatable aura into the non-majors.

Koepka apologized to his entire team after having his worst week at the Masters, other than missing the cut in 2022. His 9-over 297 was four shots higher than his previous worst score.

He was embarrassed for himself and felt he let down everyone around him.

"Everybody put in a lot of hard work," he said. "Dedicated a lot of time and effort and then for me to go out and play like that is not what I expect of myself, I don't think what they expect of me."

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Koepka accepted that failure, and the punishment workouts that followed, and did what he does each time he feels he lets down the team.

Tried to figure out why.

"When you lose, you're kind of forced into trying to figure out why and what happened," he said. "Whether that be second place or missing a cut, doesn't really matter. You've got to figure it out."

He did just that last year after playing poorly on Sunday at the Masters, relinquishing a lead to eventual champion Jon Rahm.

That resulted in his third PGA Championship — and fifth major — a month later at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York.

If he does it again, Koepka, with a sixth major, will move into even more rare company.

Tom D'Angelo is a senior sports columnist and golf writer for The Palm Beach Post. He can be reached at

PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Kentucky

Thursday, noon, ESPN; Friday, 1 p.m. ESPN; Saturday, 10 a.m., ESPN, 1 p.m. CBS; Sunday, 10 a.m., ESPN, 1 p.m., CBS

Defending champ: Brooks Koepka

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka hopes to bounce back from embarrassing Masters