No-one on the US team has more experience of Le Golf National or European golf than Brooks Koepka, and he’s got some scores to settle this week.
“Yeah, during my time here they weren’t afraid to let me know about (Europe winning the Ryder Cup),” he said. “Hopefully I can change that this week. I’ve always wanted to compete in the Ryder Cup overseas, and that was a goal for the two years I played the Challenge Tour and the European Tour.”
Those were formative years for Koepka, now grown into a man who has won three of the last six majors he’s played in, and he never fails to credit that spell for making him into the player he is. But he is also American, and there is no mercy this week.
“It’s where I found my success, found my game,” he said. “But now I’m playing for the United States, there’s no money, but there’s definitely a lot of pride, egos, a lot of, you know, reputation and I guess legacy, too.
“People always remember how many majors you’ve won, and you definitely don’t forget when you lose a Ryder Cup. I think we all know it’s been a while since we’ve won one here.
“We’ve been told a million times and it’s pretty simple: We need to win.”
He played the French Open twice during his sojourn in Europe, so he knows Golf National well.
“This was probably one of the best golf courses and exciting golf courses we played, because it kind of reminds me of a major championship; there’s a disaster around every corner.
“Every shot, you’ve got to be focused. I mean, you miss a fairway, both guys miss a fairway in alternate-shot, bogey could even win the hole, so you never know.
“The golf course definitely doesn’t play this hard at the French Open. The rough’s juicy. You miss just off the fairway and everything seems to grow right into you, so it’s hard to advance the ball, hard to get a good lie, anything you can really advance to the green.
“So hitting fairways is a premium and you kind of position yourself from there.”
The Americans believe that the President’s Cup – not much more than a duck shoot for them in recent times – has given them greater consistency of selection and awareness of the team ethic needed for the Ryder Cup. It means that Koepka, a rookie last time, has actually played three of these events now.
But he wants the hostility of the European fans to drive him.
“Obviously you’re going to hear a lot of Europe chants and cheering if you hit bad shots, but I enjoy that. I think that’s so much fun,” he continued.
“The Ryder Cup truly feels like another kind of sporting event; a football game, a basketball game, whatever it is, it’s loud and people aren’t afraid to boo you.
“That’s fun. I look the atmosphere and I kind of got a taste of that at Hazeltine. It was the coolest experience, coolest thing I’ve ever done as far as playing golf in an atmosphere like that.”