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BRADENTON, Fla. – Concession quite literally became a pain in Brooks Koepka’s neck on Saturday.
The 36-hole leader at the WGC-Workday Championship woke up and couldn’t even turn 90 degrees to the right or left.
“It’s actually quite painful, because it’s on the left and right, then my traps are tight and shoulders and scaps. It just goes down the chain,” he said. “It’s kind of like a knife going into your left side of my neck. I couldn’t extend today for whatever reason.”
The discomfort was apparent right away Saturday, as Koepka’s caddie tried to loosen up the area on the range, to no avail. On the course, Koepka routinely stretched his neck before and after every shot, but it remained stiff. He hooked his opening tee shot left, into a palmetto bush, leading to a bogey. He flared his approach into the second hole wide right, leading to another dropped shot.
The pain subsides throughout the course of the round, and he battled his way back into the tournament, going 4 under the rest of the way to shoot a respectable 70 and sit just two shots back of Collin Morikawa.
“I’m not very happy,” he said. “I’m annoyed that I feel the way I do. Spotting a few shots early on isn’t fun. I spotted a few early on in the week just because of it, and it’s not fun to be chasing. Just need to feel good tomorrow.”
Koepka said he’s been bothered by a stiff neck since the beginning of the year. He said the pain is radiating “under my skull” and traveling down both sides of his neck. He said he’s had to go through a bottle of Aleve and Advil to get through the weekend. Typically not a player who will have a lengthy warmup before a competitive round, he said he might arrive early Sunday to hit more balls in an attempt to get loose.
“Today was probably one of the worst days,” he said. “I’ve tried everything – sleeping different, I’ve been worked on. I don’t wish it upon anybody; it’s not fun. This is the first time I’ve ever had a stiff neck, but it sucks.”