Will Brooks Koepka play at the Presidents Cup? Questions marks are hanging over the player’s participation in the 2019 tournament, as the world number one suffers from a recurring knee problem.
Koepka qualified as the top ranked player of the eight automatic qualifiers for Tigers Woods’ United States team to face the Internationals at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia from December 9-15.
But Koepka’s place in that American line-up has some doubt over it after the world number one was forced to pull out of his defence of the CJ Cup in South Korea in mid-October after just two of the four rounds due to a troublesome knee.
Having not appeared again on tour since that withdrawal, this year’s USPGA Championship winner—which was Koepka’s fourth major victory—could yet miss the Presidents Cup and leave Woods searching for a 12th member of his squad.
Koepka underwent stem cell surgery on his right knee during the PGA Tour off-season following his tied third position finish in the Tour Championship in August. He returned without feeling any ill-effects in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, although he did play just two rounds as he missed the cut.
It was two rounds only once again at the CJ Cup before his withdrawal which the PGA Tour cited as happening after Koepka slipped on wet concrete during his second round.
Before the tournament Koepka had said: “My knee’s fine, it feels good. It bugged me since March maybe, but everything’s fine now.
“Did my rehab, my recovery and there shouldn’t be any issues. There might be one more round of stem cells maybe, before hopefully the end of the year here during some off-time. But other than that, I feel great. My knee feels good. It’s the first time it’s been feeling consistently good in a while.”
The fact he has not returned to the tour has resulted in the questions marks hanging up his place on the flight to Australia, with Woods potentially needing to sound out alternatives—although he is giving the world number one as much time as is needed to make a decision.
“I told [Koepka] to take his time. No hurry,” Woods told GolfWeek. “You’re part of the team. You earned your way into the top eight spots. You’re on the team. You have to figure out what is best for your career and your knee and if you decide you can’t play, great. I totally understand. We’ll cross that bridge when it comes.”
Woods named himself as one of four wildcards picks last week along with Patrick Reed, Gary Woodland and Tony Finau, overlooking Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth among others for a place on his team.
Fowler, part of the winning US side in 2015 and 2017, would likely be the first choice should Woods need to draft in a replacement, but he has been suffering from a bacterial infection and has already withdrawn from this week’s Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.
Spieth has won on all three occasions he has made the American team in 2013, 2015 and 2017 and would come under serious consideration, while Kevin Na, Kevin Kisner and Bubba Watson could all come into the mix.