(Reuters) – Brooks Koepka said he feels “like a new person” after using the PGA Tour’s three-month break to get his left knee healthy and he now has his sights set on taking the world number one spot back from Rory McIlroy.
The 30-year-old American struggled in the first five events he played this year before the coronavirus pandemic forced the tour to suspend its season.
“I got lucky. It was definitely beneficial for me,” Koepka told reporters on the eve of the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club.
“I was able to kind of reassess where I was at and get the knee stronger,” he said of the injury, which forced him to withdraw from last year’s Presidents Cup.
“The knee is back. It’s a lot better … I’m excited to see what happens here.”
World number three Koepka will be paired alongside McIlroy and world number two Jon Rahm on Thursday.
“I’ve got eyes on Rory,” Koepka said.
“The goal is to get back to number one in the world. The whole point of playing is to be the best,” said the four-times major champion.
The event at Colonial will be played without fans in attendance to stem the spread of the virus.
It will also include a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. each day in tribute to George Floyd, the black man who died last month in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
“8:46, it’s going to be special …. There needs to be change, and I want to be part of the solution,” Koepka said.
Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by Ed Osmond