Brooks Koepka expects to contend for Masters title despite recent knee surgery

Four-time major winner dislocated his kneecap and had an operation on March 16

File photo dated 20-07-2019 of USA's Brooks Koepka. Issue date: Monday March 22, 2021. PA Photo. Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka has had surgery on his knee and could miss the Masters. See PA story GOLF Koepka. Photo credit should read Niall Carson/PA Wire.

Former world No 1 Brooks Koepka said he is playing at the Masters this week with the sole aim of winning the tournament having undergone surgery on his right knee less than three weeks ago.

Koepka, 30, has become a perennial contender at the majors since winning the 2017 US Open. The American defended his title the following year and won successive US PGA Championships, in 2018 and 2019. Koepka also placed runner-up at the 2019 Masters, finishing one shot behind Tiger Woods.

At the start of last month, Koepka dislocated his kneecap and sustained ligament damage and had an operation on March 16. Given the short time between his surgery and the first tee shot at Augusta National on Thursday, Koepka finds himself in the rare position of not being talked about as a leading challenger, but the world No 11 is focused only on the Green Jacket.

"If I knew I was going to finish second, I wouldn't have shown up," Koepka told reporters at Augusta National, where he got some practice in ahead of the major. "I feel I can win. I'll play ... I'll be all right."

Koepka, who has struggled with left knee and hip issues in the past, said he was back hitting balls only seven days after surgery.

He was last in action at the World Golf Championships event in Florida on February 28 where he finished tied for second. He then missed the Players Championship and Honda Classic before having surgery in California.

"The goal was to play Augusta and so we were going to see if we could play ... A couple of bad days or anything like that it could set you back quite a while," Koepka said.

"It's been seven-plus hours every day in rehab. Between getting my neck straightened away and the knee ... I'm going to be living on the (rehab) table, making sure I can get comfortable and so it feels good."

Among Koepka's rivals at the Masters will be a revitalised Jordan Spieth, the 2015 champion who won his first title since the 2017 British Open when he claimed a two-shot victory at the Valero Texas Open on Sunday.