Similarities abound for Uihlein, Koepka
Roommates will be playing The Honda Classic as sponsor exemptions
February 26, 2014
By John Bush, PGATOUR.COM
- Peter Uihlein and Brooks Koepka will attempt to gain status on the PGA TOUR this week in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (Getty)
Peter Uihlein and Brooks Koepka.
Promising young American players – check.
Current members of the European Tour – check.
Hoping to gain status on the PGA TOUR – check.
Playing The Honda Classic via a sponsor exemption – check.
Local favorites who have been roommates for the past year in the Palm Beach area -- check.
The similarities are deep and wide for Uihlein and Koepka, none more so than they are appreciative of earning invitations to tee it up at The Honda Classic this week for the first time.
“This was always the one I came out to watch,” said Koepka, a former three-time All-American at Florida State University. “I remember carrying a sign for a bunch of guys when I was younger just trying to be around them, so to get out here is nice finally. Like I said, hometown, grew up here, so grew up wanting to play this tournament.”
Koepka will be making his seventh career start on the PGA TOUR this week, and fourth of the 2013-14 campaign. In mid-October and playing on a sponsor exemption, he opened with rounds of 67-64-67 to carry a two-stroke lead into the final round of the Frys.com Open. A final-round 1-over 72 led to a career-best T3 finish for Koepka, three strokes behind champion Jimmy Walker.
The 23-year-old Florida native racked up four victories on the Challenge Tour over the last two seasons, including a record 10-stroke victory at the 2013 Fred Olsen Challenge de Espana. Koepka’s three victories in 2013 earned him European Tour membership for this season, with recent success coming at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic (T3).
“I've played really well since Frys,” said Koepka. “(I) worked pretty hard in the offseason trying to get the short game a little better, and everything seems to be clicking right now. No complaints.”
Koepka’s roomie, Uihlein, became a household name in amateur circles with his victory at the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship, winning the premier amateur event on his 21st birthday. He later added the 2011 Ben Hogan Award to his resume, winning collegiate golf’s top honor during his junior season at Oklahoma State University.
Professionally, Uihlein owns 13 starts on the PGA TOUR, with a career-best T6 at the 2013 Puerto Rico Open. It is overseas where he has enjoyed the most success, however, winning on both the European Tour (2013 Madeira Islands Open) and the Challenge Tour. This season, he has yet to miss a cut in six starts, with a 10th-place finish at the Nedbank Golf Challenge his best outing.
“Last year was a nice year,” said Uihlein, a 23-year-old native of New Bedford, Mass. “I played very well. It's nice to be back here, playing in the States for a nice little stretch. We have a nice break over there in Europe, and it just fits perfectly in the schedule. There's so many great events here in the States that you can play in, and I was fortunate enough to get an invite for this week.”
While the two players are each other’s biggest fans on the golf course, don’t doubt the competitive fire that burns between the two.
“Well, we’ve broken a ping-pong table … so we’re pretty competitive if you couldn’t tell, on the golf course and off the golf course,” said Koepka.
“We’re both different but we’re both very competitive,” added Uihlein. “We both like to win, regardless of what we’re doing, whether golf or really just anything. It's been great living with him and traveling with him, and we've both, I think, improved, or we've had success doing it, living together and pushing each other to be better.”