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Seething Is Believing

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FUELED BY SLIGHTS REAL AND IMAGINED, BROOKS KOEPKA BECAME A MAJOR FORCE

THE DAY before he won his third major title in 14 months, Brooks Koepka went to the gym. It's his favorite pre-tee-time activity—he says exercise relaxes him—and after stationary bike work and an hour of lifting, he and workout buddy Dustin Johnson were about to leave when some fans approached and asked for a photo. Koepka prepared to smile ... then watched as they swarmed Johnson and ignored the back-to-back U.S. Open champion.

No matter that Johnson was the world No. 1 at the time. Koepka bristled, then added the snub to the list that fuels him, whether he's going for another 225-pound bench press or fighting for another Tour victory. One day later he earned his second major of the year, coolly holding off Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship at Bellerive.

Koepka's remarkable 2018 included a 15-week layoff for a left-wrist injury, which kept him out of the Masters. As just three golfers reached out to him (another item for the list), he realized how badly he missed playing. After deciding to marry his innate competitive drive with his deeper appreciation for the game, Koepka wrested the top spot from Johnson by October; shortly after, he was voted Player of the Year by his peers.

Yet each time the 28-year-old Koepka muscles another course into submission, the search for slights gets more difficult. Not to worry, Brooks: In this issue, there's a story on Woods that's longer than this.