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Brooks Koepka is ready for a nap after opening Travelers with 68

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 6/21/2018 William S. Paxton

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CROMWELL, Conn. — Brooks Koepka was hoping to get some rest after winning a second consecutive U.S. Open, but that didn’t quite work out as planned.

Regardless, a tired two-time major winner kept his commitment to play in the Travelers Championship and opened with a 2-under-par 68 on Thursday morning. Zach Johnson led the field at 7-under after morning play.

“I still don’t really know where I’m at, but playing really well, putting good and just had a couple bad swings there,” Koepka said. “Those just come from focus and not really paying attention much.”

Koepka did not arrive at the tournament until Wednesday afternoon, opting to enjoy a few days of rest following his victory at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island and ensuing pizza party on Sunday night.

After going to bed around 4:30 a.m., he had an early wake-up call Monday from a friend, Dustin Johnson.

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“I tried to get some rest when I was back home, but we got home at about 4:30, fell asleep by 4:45,” Koepka said. “I woke up and Dustin was in my living room at 8 o’clock. He came over on the boat to say hi.

“It wasn’t as much rest as I would have liked but it feels good to be back out playing.”

Koepka went to work on the range Wednesday afternoon, but had not played the course since 2016, when he tied for ninth.

“I love this tournament, it’s fun,” Koepka said. “It’s nice to see some birdies and some red numbers.”

 Starting on the back nine Thursday, Koepka had a string of four straight birdies. He briefly shared the lead at 5-under with a birdie putt on the par-4 second hole but bogeyed the fourth and fifth. He closed the round with a bogey on the par-4 ninth.

“I’m just exhausted,” he said. “I’m excited to go home and nap.”

Koepka, who was paired with Masters winner Patrick Reed and 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, moved back to 4-under with a 10-foot putt for birdie on the par-5 sixth hole.

It’s the first time a U.S. Open winner has played the following week since Justin Rose did it in 2013. Simpson also did it in 2012, when he played at the Travelers after flying cross country from The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

“This was always on the schedule,” Koepka said, about playing at TPC River Highlands. “I had three months off at the beginning of the season (due to a wrist injury). This is the place I wanted to come.

“I committed to coming so I’m not going to back out.”

Once the Travelers is over, Koepka will take a week off and head to Boston for a bachelor party with his friends.


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