It is the naked truth that Brooks Koepka has been the dominant figure in golf for two seasons now. The 29-year-old has taken his scenario literally, with a high-profile photoshoot for ESPN’s annual The Body issue this week. Koepka dons only a birthday suit amid a variety of on and off-course poses.
Koepka is not particularly bothered about shifting focus away from these photos; victory at the Tour Championship, and the $15m that comes with it, would further confirm his recurring ability to walk the walk. The next photo could well be more orthodox, featuring Koepka with trophy in hand.
Koepka’s 67 at East Lake afforded him a share of the lead with Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas. That Schauffele shot 64 on day one – the lowest score in the field – yet ties Koepka at 10 under par owes everything to this event’s new format, whereby players started from a handicapped position.
This paled into insignificance, though, as Koepka for the first time addressed – as he so eloquently put it – “dropping my robe”. The four-times major winner had been criticised for weight loss associated with the shoot, which took place before the Masters. “It’s one of those things where all these people that talk crap and whatever on social media, they don’t have the balls to do it,” Koepka said. “And they wouldn’t look that good.
“It was something I enjoyed. I was looking forward to it for months. It’s something I definitely don’t regret doing. It’s been enjoyable to see the pictures over the last couple of months, see all the hard work I put into it and see the results. To get chosen for that, you have to be one of the best in your sport. So I’m doing something right on the golf course. It was something I wanted to do and it was fun. I enjoyed it. I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.”
Rory McIlroy said he had been invited to do the same as Koepka in 2015 but declined. “Brooks worked hard for that,” said Mcllroy, who is one shot off the lead after a 66 that included three birdies in his closing six holes.
Thomas, who started with a two-stroke lead over the field, signed for a 70. Tommy Fleetwood’s 69 means he is eight behind.