Despite being the No. 1 golfer with four major championships since the summer of 2017, Brooks Koepka has been deliberately ignored by the media, even seemingly shunned by them without a good reason. Perhaps he can change that by wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat out on the course. At least he’d get some attention, and maybe some fans.
A U.S. Open Promo Without a U.S. Open Champion
Just this week, for the U.S. Open promo video, Koepka never appeared on camera, and he’s the two-time defending champion of the tournament, as well as the top-rated golfer in the world. It was more than just an accidental omission. It was a deliberate snub at the golfer that the media seemingly loves to hate.
Oh, and Koepka had also won the most recent major, his PGA Championship. And that came off a close second-place to Tiger Woods’ comeback in the spring.
Imagine hyping the Super Bowl without Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, or a college football playoff video without Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Can you see a baseball all-star game video that leaves off Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, or a movie about the greatest hockey players of all time without Wayne Gretzky? Nobody ignores names like Steph Curry and Zion Williamson in professional or college basketball. And can anyone forget Serena Williams in tennis?
It’s not even his first U.S. Open snub. Last year, when reviewing the best golfers early on, Koepka was again ignored.
Sports are a meritocracy, but sports media coverage isn’t. Analysts can claim that Koepka just isn’t very interesting, but an embarrassing photo from Golf World at Koepka’s PGA championship press conference last year showed the number of journalists well into the single digits. They effectively buried the lead story of the tournament.
Koepka has four major championships in the last three seasons. Better hyped golfers Jordan Spieth (three major championships, none since the end of the 2017 season), Rory McIlroy (four major championships, none since 2014), Dustin Johnson (one major, 2016), Rickie Fowler (none), and Justin Rose (one major, 2013) are well-behind Koepka. In fact, Koepka is one more major away from tying Phil Mickelson (five majors), who gets a lot more attention despite not winning a major since 2013.
My students from the golf team all like Koepka, and I suspect other golfers respect him. The sports media and national press… not so much.
Koepka’s been disregarded before. In fact, the University of Florida didn’t even give him a scholarship. The Gators’ loss is the Seminoles’ gain, as rival Florida State University got a three-time All-American in the NCAA as a result.
What Can Koepka Do to Get Some Attention?
Perhaps Koepka can be the bad boy, get into fights, make the tabloids, be as brash as John McEnroe was for tennis. But it doesn’t seem to be his style. His demeanor toward Tiger Woods’ comeback with the world cheering for his rival was quite classy. Even when he’s complaining about the lack of coverage, he’s just so darn polite about it.
Koepka is actually known for one thing; his hats. He made a splash in the golf world with some floral Nike hats, lighting up Twitter, getting some negative coverage dissing his headgear. I suspect he’s doing it to get known for something other than being ignored.
So imagine the British Open (now just called “The Open”) where Koepka emerges on the final day of the tournament with a one-shot lead, and a red hat with the white letters proclaiming “Make America Great Again.”
The fallout would be amazing. Liberals would hate him. Conservatives would love him. Fox would make him a regular, perhaps perching him next to Brian Kilmeade. CNN and MSNBC might grill him about his Trump ties. His press conferences would be swarmed by the media from the right, and maybe the left as well, with a lot of softball and tough questions. He’d have his fill of autograph seekers. Antifa members would get dragged from courses trying to protest him. Endorsements would flood in for a change. NewsMax could track his every movement.
Now I’m not sure that Koepka is a Trump supporter, or even a Republican. But he really doesn’t need to be. Such a stunt would at least get him some attention that his impressive golf game can’t seem to buy.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia—read his full bio here.