Koepka warms up for PGA Championship defense at Byron Nelson

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LOS ANGELES, May 8, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – One week out from his PGA Championship title defense at Bethpage Black, Brooks Koepka is tuning up his game at the US PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson in Dallas, Texas.

Koepka is making his fifth career start in the tournament, but his first since it moved to the course located in the southern outskirts of Dallas last year.

He said he’ll be giving the course his full attention, despite the fact that he’s got a major title defense coming up.

“I’m here to play this golf course,” Koepka said. “You’re not trying to blow this week off just to make sure you got a shot you might hit two, three times for next week. That doesn’t make any sense to me.”

But Koepka admits that Bethpage Black won’t be far from his mind.

He’ll be defending a major title for the second time. His first major defense turned out well — with a second straight US Open title at Shinnecock Hills last year.

“I like building a little bit of rhythm, finding your game, figuring out how to score, to manage your game,” Koepka said of playing the week before a major — when many top players opt to rest and practice.

“We’ve looked at stats and usually my second week out is my best week.”

It’s been only nine months since Koepka hoisted the PGA’s Wanamaker Trophy, after holding off Tiger Woods and Australian Adam Scott to win at Bellerive in St. Louis.

This year the event has moved from August to May, making it the second major of the year after the Masters — where Koepka finished second — just a stroke behind resurgent Tiger Woods.

Shortly before the Masters he went back to former putting coach Jeff Pierce, and he thinks the move is paying off.

“Feel pretty confident,” Koepka said. “Augusta was the first week we started working together. It feels good. I’m happy.”

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