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I don't have to do anything: Brooks Koepka hails impact of Portrush caddie Ricky Elliott at The Open

Brooks Koepka shelters under an umbrella with caddie Ricky Elliot during the first round of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Brooks Koepka shelters under an umbrella with caddie Ricky Elliot during the first round of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

By Adam McKendry at Royal Portrush

It helps having an inside track to a golf course, particularly if you haven't played it before, and fortunately for Brooks Koepka he has local man Ricky Elliott on the bag this week.

There's no doubt that Elliott is one of the best, if not the best, caddies on Tour these days having assisted his player to four Major championships since the start of 2017, and this week he is crucial more than most.

The Portrush native grew up on these links since he was a young boy, playing them, learning them, making mistakes on them and then never making them again.

So when Koepka arrived at the Dunluce links earlier this week having never experienced them before, he wasn't overawed or concerned. He had everything he needed to know carrying his clubs.

Therefore, it was no surprise to hear the World No.1's answer as to how many of his 68 shots he needed Elliott's help for on his way to a three-under opening round at The Open today.

"68 of them!" he grinned in a rare show of humour.

Perhaps the only players more prepared for this week than Koepka, because of Elliott, are the local men themselves given they and their caddies have all extensive knowledge of Portrush.

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The veteran Elliott, now with Koepka six years, will have brought his already existent knowledge of the links to this week and then will have added to it in midweek course walks.

All four-time Major champion Koepka has to do is show up each day and continue trusting that his caddie knows what he's doing. A 68 proves that he does.

"I don't have to learn much, my caddie knows it all. I'm okay with not knowing much," added Koepka, who earlier this week revealed he doesn't practice in non-Major weeks.

"It's easy when he's just standing on the tee telling you to hit it in this spot and I just listen to him. I don't think have to think much. I don't have to do anything!

"It's fun. Obviously he knows this golf course like the back of his hand. He knows where to miss it, especially where up the pin might be."

Of course, while Elliott provides extensive knowledge and detail of the course, Koepka still has to execute, and he certainly did in round one.

While he could have even gone lower, sitting four-under with just two holes to play, the American will be satisfied with a round that has him two back of the lead and in his traditional Major form.

Winner of three of the last six Majors, the 29-year-old knows just how to turn it on for the big events. It's an impressive skill, and one that many other players on Tour would dearly love.

"I've hit it unbelievable the last couple of days. I'm very pleased with the way I'm striking it. It's nice to get some practice in over the last five, six days. I feel good. I feel very comfortable," added Koepka, who is a combined 67-under par in Majors since 2017.

"It's a Major championship. That's what you're trying to peak for."

So far, Koepka has been impressed with this one in particular. He's never played Portrush before but, having spoken with Elliott, he knows how important this one is.

And now, having experienced a Championship day rather than just a practice day, he's no less delighted to see what Northern Ireland has to offer when given the chance on the biggest stage.

"(The people) love their golf, it's pretty simple. You can see with the turnout we've had today. I think yesterday was the most people I've seen on a Wednesday," he said with incredulity.

"So not having it in Ireland for, what, 50 years, 60 years, something like that, it's special for them to have it here. And being with so many guys that are from here or live here, I'm glad it's back over here."

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