Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka stoked the debate at last month’s US PGA Championship after predicting that third-round leader “DJ” Johnson could struggle to close out a second major title. The golfers were once considered as good friends.
Koepka, who was in the hunt for the lead at the time — the tournament was eventually won by Collin Morikawa — remarked that there were a lot of names ahead of him on the leaderboard, but implied that he didn’t fear many of them.
It was then he took his shot at Johnson. “A lot of the guys on the leaderboard, I don’t think have won (a major). I guess DJ has only won one. I don’t know a lot of the other guys up there,” Koepka said.
But Koepka’s jab might have lit the fire under the usually laid-back American.
The last three weeks has seen Johnson dominating an elite field to win the Northern Trust by 11 strokes at 30-under par, the second lowest total in tour history.
Just a week later he finished second at the BMW Championship, but only because Jon Rahm sank a 66-foot monster putt in a playoff. Now he is back in the winner’s circle for the third time since the tour resumed in June, $15 million richer.
“Obviously I’m playing very well now,” Johnson said, before adding ominously. “I feel like I can play better, though”. With the US Open at Winged Foot just a few days away and six majors to come in the next 10 months, Johnson is going to have lots of chances to improve his major record and maybe settle the strange score Brooks Koepka seems to have with him.
Koepka has won four majors — the PGA Championship twice, and the U.S. Open twice. Johnson may have won a lot more tournaments on the tour than Koepka, as Rory McIlroy pointed out in defending Johnson, but when it comes to majors, Koepka does have him.
That FedEx Cup victory gave DJ a $15 million check, which if you combine with his last performances, gave him a month where he earned over $18 million playing golf. Johnson hasn’t said a word about Koepka, but he hasn’t needed to. His stellar golf game has done the talking for him.