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Brooks Koepka sees 'light at the end of the tunnel' after lackluster stretch

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Brooks Koepka sees a silver lining during one of the worst stretches of his career.

The four-time major champion's year has been plagued by injuries. A knee injury sidelined him this spring and because of the time off then, Koepka, now fully healthy, revved up his schedule this fall to find his form. 

In eight Tour starts since finishing T-6 at The Open in July, Koepka hasn't registered a top-20, the longest span of his Tour career. But coming off a beatdown of rival Bryson DeChambeau in "The Match" and a solid first round at the Hero World Challenge, in which he sits one shot off the lead at 5 under, Koepka finally has something to hang his hat on. 

"I worked my tail off over the last two months and I see the light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "I'm damn close and it was nice to come out today and see the shots that come out the right window, right flight, right shape, everything, right spin. Just go work on it here for a little bit more and just getting better and better every day."

Full-field scores from the Hero World Challenge

After Round 1 at the Houston Open, Koepka had a range session with veteran swing coach Randy Smith where they worked on getting Koepka more “underneath” the ball while in a more athletic position, though Smith called the session just a "look-see." But if he can eliminate his mistakes, the world No. 16 sees his game going in a better direction. 

This past year, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Tony Finau ended long winless droughts that went back as far as 2016 (Finau). Although Koepka's last win came in February at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, he'll keep working to make sure he doesn't suffer a prolonged setback like his three Hero World Challenge competitors. 

Rory leads Hero: 'If only it was the end of March'

Rory McIlroy has gone from tears at the Ryder Cup to some of his best golf of the year, and right now his only complaint is the calendar.

"Trying to [improve my game], man. It's been one of those things the last, I don't know, it feels like the last two years have been a struggle except for the majors or WGCs. I think four top-20s in the last two years that are outside of WGCs, it's not been very good. Just trying to figure it out," he said.

"I think obviously there's been some unfortunate things that have happened to me and it's – just got to grind through it. I'm finding ways just to get through it and figure out my golf swing again and just get out and go play. Sometimes when you don't have it, it feels like you're never going to get it again, but just got to keep going, keep fighting and figure it out."

After the next three days in the Bahamas, the 31-year-old will shelve his new Cleveland Golf and Srixon clubs for three weeks until the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he'll begin his quest to earn a ticket back to Hawaii in '23. Though a good showing this week will get him even closer to the light he sees at the tunnel's end.