November 21, 2014 / 9:33 AM / 4 years ago

Stricken Koepka recovers from dodgy burger with 68 in Dubai

DUBAI (Reuters) - American Brooks Koepka bounced back with a four-under-par second round 68 at the DP World Tour Championship on Friday after severe food poisoning led to him carding an opening 78 at the season-ending Dubai event.

Brooks Koepka of the U.S. watches his tee shot on the fourth hole during the second round of the British Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, northern England in this file photo taken on July 18, 2014. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

The 24-year-old arrived in the United Arab Emirates after winning the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open a week ago, eclipsing the likes of Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson to claim his maiden European Tour victory.

But an ill-fated burger stop en route from Turkey left the Floridian stricken with food poisoning. He was forced to withdraw from Dubai’s pre-tournament pro-am and limit practice sessions at the Earth course.

“I didn’t feel like I had any energy,” Koepka told Reuters. “Today I still don’t feel like I have full energy back.”

Those woes were reflected in a dire six-over 78 in Thursday’s first round, but the ebullient American bounced back on day two, shrugging off two early bogeys to pick up shots at holes seven and 11 before making four successive birdies from the 13th.

“I really got it going on the back nine,” said Koepka, who has a career-high world ranking of 35.

For the birdie on 11, Koepka said “I took two terrible shots, missed the green but holed from off the green from about 35 feet.

“The next hole I hit a nice little wedge to a couple of feet and made that. The next hole the same thing, wedged it in and on 16 I hit what I thought would be a good shot and ended up about 25 feet away and just holed that.”

Koepka is on 146, two-over at the halfway stage and so is unlikely to trouble the leaders, who were at seven-under.

“I was pleased. I’m still playing well, trying to get over food poisoning - we’re just going to throw two good rounds at it,” he said.

“I needed to lose weight, so that’s fine,” he joked.

Koepka’s win in Turkey propelled him into the top 10 of the European Tour money list. However, he is planning a reduced schedule in Europe and on the U.S PGA Tour in 2015.

“I’m tired of playing golf. I want a break, so probably maximum I’ll play 20-23 events whereas I’ve already played 28 (this year).”

(1 US dollar = 0.8004 euro)

Reporting by Matt Smith. Editing by Patrick Johnston

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