SportJim Nantz backs Brooks Koepka before PGA Championship, compares him to Tiger Woods
Weather halts first-round play at PGA's Zurich Classic
AVONDALE, La. (AP) More than two inches of heavy rain and lightning has forced a stoppage in play during Thursday's first round of the Zurich Classic. The first players to tee off were on the course for a little more than two-and-a-half hours before the horn sounded to suspend play. RELATED: Leaderboard The tandem of Joel Dahmen and Brandon Harkins left the course with the early lead at 6 under through nine holes at the par-72, TPC Louisiana course just southwest of New Orleans. One group played as many as 10 holes before play was stopped.
Jim Nantz won’t hesitate to tell you who his favorite golfer on the PGA Tour is right now. But it’s not the one that captivated the sports world last month with his incredible comeback at Augusta National.
It’s Brooks Koepka.
Nantz, who leads CBS’s golf coverage, was asked on Wednesday about his thoughts on the field heading into next week’s PGA Championship — the second major tournament of the season at Bethpage Black in New York.
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Pretty quickly, Nantz started talking about Koepka, who he feels hasn’t received the media coverage he deserves.
“Poor Brooks Koepka. If I don’t bring up his name right now, you guys are never gonna bring him up,” Nantz said,“It’s borderline tragic in terms of how you cover a player or subject. He’s having the best run in golf since Tiger in 2000 and 2001. We’re gonna create the story there and it’s just not interesting enough to us to be able to give the guy the time. Forget how much time he exerts and gives to those of us who cover him. I’m not concerned with that. I’m just talking about facts.”
Now, Nantz has a point. Koepka has been extremely impressive on the course as of late.
The 29-year-old already has a win on Tour this year — picking up the season-opening win at The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges — and has two second place finishes, one at The Honda Classic and the other at the Masters Tournament, just behind Tiger Woods. He’s currently No. 8 in the FedExCup rankings, and No. 3 in the World Golf Rankings.
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When looking at his performances at majors, it’s even more impressive.
Koepka has won back-to-back U.S. Opens and has finished in the top-13 in seven of the last eight majors he’s played in.
The way he’s playing, Nantz said, is reminiscent of the beginning of Wood’s career.
“In the last 13 major championships that he’s played in, he’s got 11 top-13 finishes,” Nantz said,“That means he’s been in contention 11 out of 13 majors. That breaks down to eight top-10s, seven top-6s, six top-5s, four top-4s, and three wins and a second. We all know he’s won three of the last seven he’s played in. We haven’t seen anybody that dominant in the game since Tiger in 2000 and 2001.”
The Koepka vs. Woods rivalry
Koepka will attempt to defend his title next week at Bethpage Black, which is hosting the PGA Championship for the first time. Koepka would be the first to win back-to-back at the PGA Championship since Woods did so in 2006 and 2007.
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The pair have finished first and second in their past two majors, too. Koepka took the PGA Championship last August, with Woods finishing two strokes behind him, and Woods edged Koepka out for the green jacket by a single stroke at the Masters last month.
While Woods and Koepka are undoubtedly at different points in their careers, Nantz still believes that their battle could be one of the best in the history of golf.
“We might be on the brink of the next golf rivalry we’ve all wanted forever,” Nantz said,“They’ve gone one-two and one-two in the last two major championships.
“In my mind [Koepka] is the favorite coming into Bethpage just based on what he’s done in his last 13 majors. It’s an awesome stretch for him, and I think it’s a very good thing for the welfare of the game. I’m hoping that materializes into another little showdown between these two guys.”
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