Why Brooks Koepka will win majors and lots of them
Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements
ANYBODY who has been following my musings will know that I have been tipping Brooks Koepka for big things for what seems like years. So it has given me some personal satisfaction to see the latest American wonderkid deliver on his huge promise.
There has always been something about Koepka that separates him from the nearly-men. Of course he has a great swing, but so do thousands of others. Yes, he belts the ball a mile, but he has plenty of company in that area as well. And yes, he's got a great short game. But even when you put all these things together, it often isn't enough.
Koepka, who is 24, also has a great work ethic, but it is his determination and his will to win that mark him out from many of his peers. This is a young man who just hates to lose. Golf, of course, is the sort of game where tournament players have to get used to losing. There are plenty who turn up in the hope of making a good pay cheque and will be happy simply to see a healthy bank balance - these are guys who never win majors and will only ever pick up a couple of titles in the course of a career.
There is nothing wrong with that, if that is the route you choose to take. But Koepka is not that type of player. He is a competitor, pure and simple, somebody who will finish second and third and look at what he could have done to have played better. And that is why I am convinced that he will win several majors in the years ahead and could well be the man most likely to challenge Rory McIlroy.
Before you start choking into your Wheatie Oaties, you might want to read on.
He has arrived where he is the hard way, pursuing his dreams in such far-flung places as Kazakhstan, Kenya, Norway and the Czech Republic, but more of that later.
He had a good record at Florida State University although he had to wait until his senior year for his first victory but it proved to be a catalyst and he won twice more. Koepka is a contemporary of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
Spieth made the cut at the Byron Nelson Classic when he was just 16, joined Tiger Woods as the only other multiple winner of the US Junior Amateur, played on an NCAA title-winning team at Texas and was picked to play for the US in the Walker Cup. Reed helped Augusta State to two NCAA titles and reached the semi-finals of the US Amateur. In other words, there was never any doubt whereSpieth and Reed would finish up.
Koepka, meanwhile, headed to Europe to play on the Challenge Tour, where he soon won a tournament in Spain in 2012. He tried and failed to secure his PGA Tour card, unable to get out of the second stage. He tied with Spieth, who took his chance on sponsor invitations on the Web.com Tour, tied for second in the Puerto Rico Open on the PGA Tour on a sponsor's exemption and the rest, as they say, is history.
Koepka had status on the Challenge Tour from his win at the Catalunya Challenge, and he won by seven shots in Italy in May 2013. He followed with victories in Spain by 10 strokes and Scotland by three to earn his European Tour card.
His breakthrough came at the Turkish Airlines Open at the end of last year. All of a sudden, he was flying and it seems that he can't stop winning. While the victory in Turkey was big, it went largely unnoticed back home in the US, but he was now a member of the PGA Tour and he wasted no time in making his mark there too.
An all-star cast arrived in Arizona for the Waste Management Phoneix Open. It marked the return to action of Woods and the circus that entailed. There is also the small matter of it being the best-attended golf tournament anywhere in the world, with more 600,000 pouring in over four days.
Did it trouble Koepka? Hardly. He had rounds of 64 and 66 when the heat was on at the weekend, and he played his final 47 holes without a single blemish.
He was one of five players who were tied for the lead in the final hour after holing an outrageous 50-foot eagle putt from the fringe on the 15th. The final hole features bunkers on either side of the fairway - many of the field found the sand with their drives, but not Koepka, who ripped in 320 yards, right down the middle to secure his maiden PGA Tour success.
''Whether it be success or failure, I have learnt a lot,'' Koepka said. ''I won three times in college. But it's funny. Looking back, I have won on the Challenge Tour, one in Europe and one here now. It's been special. But my drive, I think, is what it is. I want to be the best player in the world. I'm not there yet, and I know it's going to take time. But I want to get to that point.''
The win in Phoenix took him into the top 20 in the world rankings. He will play in all four majors in 2015 and looks like a shoo-in for the Presidents Cup team. And be sure of one thing - this boy has a long, long way to go.
Image credit - PGA Tour Twiiter Page
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