Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Pictured: Brooks Koepka
- Following his U.S. Open win at Shinnecock Hills, Brooks Koepka is entered in this week’s Travelers Championship.
- Only seven of the past 40 major champions have played the following week.
- History doesn’t bode well for Koepka’s chances to win again this week.
CROMWELL, Conn. — When Brooks Koepka first committed to the Travelers Championship, he probably didn’t consider how he’d feel about playing in the heart of Connecticut just days after winning a grueling U.S. Open.
Koepka might not be too excited to get right back to the grind, as evidenced by him begging off his Wednesday pro-am slot, but he does deserve a hearty pat on the back for still honoring the commitment.
Not playing the pro-am, though, essentially means he’ll show up to TPC River Highlands on Thursday, straight off a victory celebration and without seeing the course, one that he’s played only twice before — finishing T-9 and T-51 in each of the two previous even-numbered years.
This week, he will become the first player to compete in a tournament the week after winning a major since Jordan Spieth followed his 2015 Masters title with a trip to Harbour Town for the RBC Heritage, where he finished in a share of 11th place.
You might think the physical and mental energy of winning a major would greatly diminish a player’s performance just a few days later, but for the most part, the numbers show otherwise.
I examined the post-major records of the last 40 major champions, dating to the 2009 Open Championship (sorry, Tiger!), to find out how many of them played the next week and what their results were, as well as the results of those who didn’t play the next week.
Here’s what I found:
Of these 40 major winners, only seven competed the next week. There’s obviously not a huge sample size, but we can at least work with it.
Only one player — Louis Oosthuizen, who was somehow talked into traveling to Malaysia after his 2010 Open Championship win — finished in the top 10 the next week. Conversely, only one — Ernie Els in 2012 — missed the cut. The rest are bunched in the top 30, as Spieth, Rose, Simpson, Schwartzel and Glover offered results that seem to make sense. They were obviously playing well enough to post some good scores the next week, but they were also probably too emotionally drained to make a serious run at another title.
We should expect a similar result for Koepka this week.
It’s hard to imagine him losing his swing in just a few days, and following Shinnecock with TPC River Highlands should feel like taking the donut off a baseball bat, which will obviously help.
But based on recent history, we also shouldn’t expect Koepka to make another serious title run so quickly.
Perhaps unrelated yet worth storing away for future use are the results of major champions in their next starts when they don’t compete the following week.
Of these 33 players, five won in their next start.
Another five finished in the top 10.
A total of 20 finished in the top 30.
And only seven missed the cut.
Based on this, we’re more likely to see a recent major champion contend in his next start if it doesn’t occur the following week.
Koepka might serve as the outlier this week, but the numbers aren’t on his side.