Brooks Koepka went unnoticed as he worked out in a public gym during the US PGA Championship, but hopes those days are over after his historic performances in major championships.
Koepka carded a closing 66 in a breathless final round at Bellerive Country Club to finish two shots ahead of a rejuvenated Tiger Woods, joining Woods, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win the US Open and US PGA in the same season.
After becoming the first player in 29 years to win back-to-back US Open titles in June, Koepka has now won three of his last six major starts, a wrist injury having forced him to sit out the Masters in April.
During his winner’s press conference at Shinnecock Hills in June Koepka complained of feeling “overlooked” and when asked on Sunday if he feels he will finally get the recognition he deserves the answer was noticeably abrupt.
“I hope so,” said the 28-year-old, who had earlier told the story of lifting weights in peace before the third round in St Louis while his friend and world No 1 Dustin Johnson was asked for selfies by fans.
“I use it as motivation,” added Koepka, who is now ranked second in the world behind Johnson. “You can’t hide when you’re on the top of the leaderboard. You can’t hide my name. So just try to get to the top of the leaderboard and work from there.
“I don’t care what anybody else says. You’re always going to have fans and you’re always going to have people that hate you. The people around me, they know who I am, and that’s really all I care about. I like to reach out to the fans and have support.”
As for Woods, his remarkable revival could now be capped by a Ryder Cup wild card pick, which would mean him foregoing the role of vice-captain already bestowed on him by US captain Jim Furyk long before anyone expected the summer the former world No 1 has had.
Woods moved from 20th in the qualifying race to 11th thanks to his runners-up finish at Bellerive, and Furyk said: “I’m not sure the numbers are always that important when I look down the list. What is important is how well Tiger has played.
“His game is trending so it’s great to see him playing well. The numbers are nice, but not always the most important. We want the players who are going to help us be successful.”