The PGA Tour is in the Minneapolis area this week for the 3M Open, which marks the first major sporting event held in the Twin Cities since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody in May.
Though it’s been nearly two months since his death, Brooks Koepka said the thought of it still gave him chills at TPC Twin Cities on Tuesday.
“Obviously, it was tragic,” Koepka said. “It’s pathetic what happened. To see somebody’s life to go and then you watch it multiple, multiple times, it’s tough. I get chills right now just even thinking about it. What happened is uncalled for.”
Video of Floyd’s arrest quickly went viral in May, as it showed a white Minneapolis police officer with his knee in Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes while Floyd yelled out, “I can’t breathe.” That officer, along with three others involved in the arrest, have all since been fired and arrested.
Floyd’s death sparked massive protests and movements across the country, and caused countless in the sports world to speak out and get involved.
Koepka is just the latest on the PGA Tour to address his death, too. Harold Varner III released a lengthy letter on social media in June, calling his death a “senseless killing ‚ a murder — and, to me, it was evil incarnate.”
Tiger Woods followed suit shortly after, too, saying the “shocking tragedy clearly crossed” a line. Woods and Varner are the only two African-American golfers inside the top 200 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Though it hasn’t been easy, Koepka has seen positive things come in the wake of Floyd’s death and the movements that have followed.
“If there is anything good, we’re starting to see change, and I think that’s important,” Koepka said. “As a world, as people, we need to continue to grow. I think we’re at least bringing a light to it now.
“Racism is a big issue, and I think we’re on our way now. People are becoming more vocal. Everyone is becoming more vocal and I think it’s very important, and it’s definitely showing.”
My knee is ‘not an excuse’
Koepka has struggled in recent weeks on Tour, and he revealed last week that he was still having left knee issues several months after undergoing a stem-cell treatment to repair a torn patella tendon.
Koepka fired an 8-over 80 in the final round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Ohio on Sunday, finishing the week at 12-over par and near the bottom of the pack among golfers who made the cut. He said that he underwent an MRI last week to check on his knee, too, but said it was no better than it was in October — when he had to withdraw from The CJ Cup in South Korea after slipping on wet concrete, re-tearing his patella tendon.
The 30-year-old, however, refuses to cite his knee as the reason for his poor play — and even said Sunday was the best it felt in a long time.
“It’s not an excuse to why I’ve been playing bad,” Koepka said. “I can promise you that.”
The four-time major championship winner is running out of time this season to make a run and secure his spot in the FedExCup Playoffs. He’s currently at No. 154 in the FedExCup standings, well outside of the top 125 who will qualify for the first playoff event.
He can make up significant ground over the last four weeks of the season — both the PGA Championship, the first major of the season, and the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational offer more points than usual — Koepka knows he needs to make his move soon.
“I just need to play good. I’ve played so bad lately,” Koepka said. “I’m just trying to find things. Every week, I feel like the results aren’t there but it’s getting better and better … If I can bring the misses up, I’ll be fine.”
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