Brooks Koepka battled through the pain of a neck injury to stay in contention at the WGC-Workday Championship and admitted he had been troubled by the problem for the past few weeks.
Koepka’s discomfort was evident when he arrived at The Concession to warm up ahead of his third round, and the overnight leader quickly dropped down the leaderboard when he bogeyed the first two holes.
While Collin Morikawa was powering into a commanding lead with a superb run of seven birdies in eight holes, Koepka engaged damage-limitation mode and stopped the rot with a welcome birdie at the third followed by eight straight pars, a sequence he interrupted with a birdie at the 12th.
Morikawa’s lead was whittled down from five to two when he bogeyed both par-five on the back nine, and Koepka dragged himself back into the running with birdies at 16 and 17, the latter with a 33-foot putt, as he ground out a commendable 70 to close on 13 under par.
“It’s been a battle every day for the past month and a half,” he said when quizzed about the severity of his neck issues. “Is started in Palm Springs (at The American Express) and it was bugging me. Today was probably the worst it’s been in a while.
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“I woke up and I couldn’t even look 90 degrees to the left or right. I’ve tried everything, sleeping different, I’ve been worked on. I don’t wish it upon anybody, it’s not fun. This is the first time I’ve ever had a stiff neck, but it sucks!
“I gave a few shots back to the field and it kind of loosened up a little bit more, but not quite where I want. It doesn’t really feel any better. Just one of those things, I’ve had it for a long time, so I’m ready for an off week next week.”
Koepka will be in the penultimate pairing for the final round with Webb Simpson, and his proposed game plan depends on how his neck feels on Sunday morning.
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“I want to feel good, that would be nice,” he added. “I’ll go get some treatment here now and get worked on in the morning, and from there just hope for the best. Hopefully it loosens up.
“I’m not very happy. I’m annoyed that I feel the way I do. Spotting a few shots early on isn’t fun. I spotted a few early on in the week just because of it and it’s not fun to be chasing. I just need to feel good tomorrow.”
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