After three consecutive missed cuts, Brooks Koepka is in early contention at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Koepka shot 3-under 68 in the opening round at TPC Scottsdale. He’s five shots off the current lead, held by Matthew NeSmith (63) and Mark Hubbard (63).
Koepka, who has dropped to world No. 13, was 4 under through his first seven holes on Thursday, before dropping a shot at the 351-yard, par-4 17th. Koepka hit his tee shot near the front of the green at No. 17, his eighth hole of the day, but knocked his second shot over the green and into the water.
Koepka recovered with a birdie at the par-4 first, but an errant drive and a three-putt led to a double bogey at the par-4 second. He played his final seven holes in 1 under for his lowest round in his last 11 played.
“I putted a little better, made a few changes in that. It's working. I'm hitting it really well. Just hit it terrible on [No.] 2 and I ended up in the worst place possible,” Koepka said.
“On 17, the ball probably had a little water on it, so it didn't have any spin, any check-up on it, but that happens. But you've got to avoid the three-putt and the double [on No. 2].”
Koepka is coming off a stretch of three consecutive missed cuts, the first time he’s accomplished that dubious feat. The streak coincides with his separation from coach Claude Harmon III, with whom he split after November’s Masters.
Asked on Thursday if he’s working with anyone, Koepka responded: “Nobody.”
“I bounce ideas off Pete [Cowan]. I bounce ideas off Butch [Harmon]. I've said that before. It's not really much,” Koepka said. “I don't need that much coaching. Me and Claude, we only worked on a few things. Pretty much still working on those things. It's not like anything has changed.”