Just an hour after it was announced that Brooks Koepka would be in a featured group for the first two rounds of next week's 2021 Players Championship, Koepka announced that he has withdrawn from the event with a right knee injury.
The timing is horrible for Koepka, who won at the Phoenix Open last month and contended at the WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession last weekend. Koepka has thrived at The Players Championship in the past and looked to be fully recovered from a left knee injury which has plagued him for the last 18 months, but he unfortunately will not get a chance to participate next week.
"Brooks strained his right knee, and he is scheduled to further consult with doctors this week to receive a more extensive evaluation and outlook," said Koepka's manager, Blake Smith, in a statement. "We will be able to provide additional updates and information as we learn more."
The left knee issues have been ongoing. Koepka first had stem cell treatment on his left patella tendon -- which he tore -- the day after the 2019 Tour Championship last year, and then he reinjured it at the CJ Cup in late 2019. The struggles there led to a poor 2020 in which he didn't win and was rarely competitive.
Koepka confessed after winning at TPC Scottsdale in February that he did not know whether he would ever be the same golfer he was when he won four majors.
"There was a period maybe for about two months where I just questioned whether I was ever going to be the same, whether I was even going to be somewhat remotely the same golfer that I ever was," said Koepka.
"My knee, no matter how much work and pain I was doing ... it just felt like it wasn't progressing. And that's the frustrating part, when you feel like it's not going anywhere. But we stuck with it. Those dark places, a lot of tears, questioning yourself and in dark places mentally. You've got to come out of that. ... I'll tell you what, it takes a lot of effort just to get out of those places."
If there's a silver lining here, the left knee is more problematic for an elite golfer than the right knee because of swing and planting mechanics. Nevertheless, this has become a bit of a trend for Koepka, who was inching closer to being one of the favorites for all four of the 2021 majors, which start next month with the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.