AUGUSTA, Georgia — brooks koepka he did not want to share the gruesome details of the injury. But after shooting a 7-under 65 to tie for the first-round lead at the Masters with jon rahm and Victor Hovlandobeyed.

The now LIV Golf Tour member and four-time Grand Slam winner explained how he slipped at home, dislocating his knee in the process and breaking it when he tried to reattach it only to tear one of the ligaments around his kneecap. .

“My leg was to the side and out. My foot was out,” Koepka said. “And when I put it back in, because the kneecap had already broken, it went in pretty good. It went in a lot easier.”

In what was a revealing post-round interview, Koepka detailed the journey back from the injury that once rendered him unable to bend his knee and caused him to miss the cut at the 2021 Masters after his surgery.

Before the injury and before leaving for LIV last year, Koepka was considered not only one of the best players in the world, but also a player who excelled almost exclusively in the majors. He earned quite a reputation for indifference to anything but a major event and seemed to thrive on an apathetic attitude toward golf. The Netflix episode of “Full Swing” in which Koepka appeared revealed a different side to the former best player in the world: he cared about golf and winning. A lot.

“I think it was good. People probably don’t think I’m as open as I really am,” Koepka said. “I’ll tell you exactly how I feel in that moment, how I feel in this moment. I’m also quite vulnerable, away from the golf course. I’ve always said what you see on the golf course.” Of course, it’s not what you get behind closed doors.”

On Thursday, it seemed like we saw both sides of Koepka: the dominant golf side that shot 12 of 14 fairways and 15 greens and finished with three birdies on his last four holes, and the slightly more vulnerable and open personal side.

“I wish I could have celebrated the little milestones along the way instead of thinking that I could get through them,” Koepka said of his injury. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever worked through, just trying to recover, because I felt like I was on the cusp of it, and it was nice to know that I was able to get through that.”

Many questions have followed Koepka since leaving for LIV, including whether he would be able to evoke the level of golf that, for a brief but remarkable time, made him the most dominant player in the game. Thursday was just one round, but if Koepka is not only healthy again but he plays like this again, maybe today’s best players in the world have another player to worry about besides Rory McIlroyrahm and scottie scheffler Come Friday and beyond.

Here are four other things to watch out for on Friday at the Masters:

Checking out the Big Three

Speaking of McIlroy, Rahm and Scheffler, all three had very different rounds on Thursday. Scheffler didn’t play his best golf, which to him just means he didn’t finish the round in first place, but he still played well enough to finish 4 under and three short of the lead after an eagle, four birdies and just one bogie. .

Rahm was the one who rose to the top in the first round, starting with a rare four-putter on the first hole before rattling off seven birdies and an eagle on his way to seven under par. The Spaniard seemed to come into this tournament as the less publicized of this trio, and he quickly showed why he could be the favorite when the event moved to the second round.

McIlroy, meanwhile, had a rollercoaster opening round with five birdies, but balanced them with three bogeys and a double bogey to finish even. While on a normal day that might be a disappointment, McIlroy’s first few rounds at Augusta National Golf Club haven’t exactly been stellar. In fact, his 72nd on Thursday was his best opening round at the Masters since 2017. There’s still a lot of golf to play for and while many on the course have worsening weather to worry about, McIlroy could thrive on it.

Winter is coming (more or less)

Thursday was an idyllic day at Augusta National as the Georgia weather was perfect for spring. That won’t last. With heavy rain expected in Augusta over the next two days, it’s unclear what the second and third rounds will look like, whether they’ll be able to finish, or how it will affect player performance. One thing was certain: a low score on Thursday was imperative.

“Today was the opportune moment to put the round under par”, tiger forest saying. “Most of the guys are sinking today. This was the day to do it.”

As Rahm noted Thursday, the usual bad weather at Augusta results in a suspension for thunderstorms, which delays the tournament but makes the field softer and more receptive to scoring after the weather clears. Friday and Saturday are forecast to be days with a 90% chance of rain or more.

“With more softness, you’ll see guys attack this golf course a little bit better.” patrick cane, who shot a 1-under 71, said. “If the wind stays down, like it did today, you’re going to see a lot of low scores.”

The forecast is expected to include winds ranging between 10 and 20 mph on both Friday and Saturday and if the tournament runs through Sunday and perhaps Monday, the forecast will clear up and could facilitate even lower scores than Thursday.

Mickelson giving signs of life

In an astonishing turn of events, it was Phil Mickelson — not Woods — who posted the lower score of the two on Thursday. The 52-year-old shot a one-under-par 71, while Woods shot 73 in his first major round of the year. Mickelson had been struggling a lot on the LIV tour this season, finishing 27, 32 and 41 in three events thus far. The last major appearance for him was a missed cut at the US Open.

But according to Mickelson, there’s something about Augusta that fits his aging, flawed game.

“I feel like you can play this golf course and not have to be perfect,” Mickelson said. “As long as you put it in the right places, you can manage your game and shoot a number. I think that’s why I always enjoy playing here because I feel a little more relaxed, like I don’t have to be perfect.”

Whether Mickelson can continue like this and make his first cut at a major since winning the 2021 PGA Championship remains to be seen, but given where the leaders stand, both could be fighting to make the cut on Friday. Who knows, maybe we’ll see them paired up over the weekend.

The Sam Bennett Show

There was much talk of an amateur on the field before the first round on Thursday. That was NCAA individual champion sergeant gordon — which captivated players like justin thomas, Max Homa and McIlroy with his ridiculous ball speed and driving distance. However, once he was done on Thursday, he was the US Amateur winner. sam bennett who stole the show

Bennett and his uniquely contorted swing played alongside Homa and Scheffler and tied the top player in world scoring at 4 under par while throwing four shots better than Homa. The Texas A&M senior was unfazed all day and began his round with a birdie at 1 and an eagle at 2. He scored another birdie on the par-3 sixth hole and surrounded those red scores with 15 pars, including 12 in a row to finish. a round without bogey.

“I couldn’t have dreamed of a better start,” Bennett said. “No bogeys, that’s probably what I like best of all. Going around this place without bogeys is great.”

With the score, Bennett became not only the first amateur to finish inside the top 10 after the first round since ryan moore in 2005. His score of 68 was the lowest score by an amateur in a major since Hovland’s 67 during the final round of the 2019 US Open.

It’s unclear if Bennett can keep it up for the rest of the week, but it’ll be great to see him try.

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