Brooks Koepka admitted he “felt like crap” after hitting a marshal on the head with an errant drive on the first day of the US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.
The US Open champion’s tee shot on the 16th – his seventh hole of the day – was flying towards spectators to the right of the fairway when it hit a marshal who was standing just inside the ropes.
The man was knocked to the ground and was pictured bleeding from a head wound, although he was able to joke with Koepka that he had done him a favour by diverting the ball back onto the fairway.
“I felt terrible about it,” Koepka said, although he had not shouted the traditional warning of ‘fore’ following his drive.
“That’s never fun to walk up and see somebody, you just drilled them. I drilled him in the head, which is probably the worst part. To be honest with you, I felt like c**p.
“He was laughing and joking when I was up there, kept telling me, “You got a good break.” I was like, well, I still feel like c**p. But I got his information so I’ll probably reach out to him tonight and see how he’s doing. I’m sure he’s going to have quite a big headache.”
Koepka went on to bogey the hole but carded a three-under-par 68 as playing partners Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia shot 72 and 75 respectively.
Meanwhile, Tommy Fleetwood was delighted to overcome “brutal” conditions in the first round of the US PGA Championship and remain in the spotlight for a third straight major championship.
After finishing fourth in the US Open, Fleetwood was one of the favourites for the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, a course situated just a few miles from his home town of Southport.
The 26-year-old struggled to an opening 76 and battled tough conditions on day two at the Open to make the halfway cut on the mark of five over par, before rounds of 66 and 70 saw him finish in a tie for 27th.
“I didn’t really feel pressure at Birkdale, I just thought it was a new experience, being talked about as a potential winner of a major,” Fleetwood said after carding three birdies and two bogeys in an opening 70 at Quail Hollow on Thursday.
“It was all very new and I had a massive following which was great. I had experiences that week that I won’t get for another eight or nine years I guess – the first tee on Thursday or Saturday when me and Justin Rose were out early and had the biggest crowd of the week it seemed.
“No matter how I did it was an amazing experience. I felt on Thursday like I disappointed people but whatever happens this year, Friday could be the best round of the year.”
Speaking about Thursday’s opening round at the US PGA, Fleetwood added: “I’m very happy. The course is brutal, really. It’s a really tough test. Anything par or beating the course is a great score.
“The course is quite long and then the greens are firm and quite slopey. There’s not a let-up, really. You’ve never got one shot where you kind of feel you can go easy for 10 minutes or you have a little rest. It’s just five hours of real tough golf.”