Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka trying to solve TPC Sawgrass
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- One’s the No. 1 player in the world. The other’s a three-time major champion.
Collectively, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka are workout buddies and two of the most powerful players on the PGA Tour.
Singularly, each is trying to figure out a way to solve the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass and win The Players Championship for the first time.
Johnson, who regained the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking after winning the World Golf Championship event in Mexico last month, has never cracked the top 10 at the Players. His best finish was a tie for 12th in 2017.
Koepka’s best finish in four Players starts came a year ago when he posted a final-round 63. That moved him into a tie for 11th.
The change to March, with the prevailing winds and lush, thick rough, should favor the two long hitters.
“I think it plays a little bit better as far as it’s playing longer, it’s a little bit softer, but you got to hit really good golf shots,” Johnson said.
Koepka dismissed the notion about previous performances.
“As long as you’re playing good right now, it doesn’t matter the golf course,” he said. “If you’re playing good you should pick it apart and should play well. Course history isn’t what (the media) make it up to be, I don’t think. I’ve seen guys show up to an event and not see the golf course and win.”
Johnson doesn’t recall much, but during his college days at Coastal Carolina he had success at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship at nearby Sawgrass Country Club. Johnson tied for fifth as a sophomore and tied for third as a junior.
“We played this time of year, I remember, and that course is tough from what I remember,” Johnson said.
Johnson earned his 20th PGA Tour victory by dominating the field in Mexico for a five-shot win. He has victories in each calendar year going back to 2008, and his lone major win came in the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
Koepka, the former Florida State star, has also spent time at the top of the world rankings in the past year thanks to his wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.
This season, he’s already picked up another win and most recently tied for second at the Honda Classic.
With the Players leading into the majors now, each knows the importance of faring well this week.
“We have a lot of huge golf tournaments, so you want to keep your game in good form from kind of now through the end of the year,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t really let up and it doesn’t really give you a chance to kind of take a break, but I like it, I like the way the schedule is. I think it’s going to be a good year.”
“It’s an important week. I’m trying to treat it like a major,” he said. “I’m trying to treat every event like a major. I just go play nine holes and come and hit a few balls and then I leave. I keep it very simple.”