TOP 30 PLAYERS TO WATCH
No. 8: Brooks Koepka
The reigning U.S. Open champ is one of the TOUR’s most dynamic stars
December 23, 2017
Inside the PGA TOUR
Brooks Koepka riding high after first major win
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
He sometimes wondered why he wasn’t winning more, but Brooks Koepka could finally exhale after he won the U.S. Open in Wisconsin last June. He not only salted away his first major but also tied the tournament record at 16-under-par at brawny Erin Hills.
It had all worked out.
That wasn’t always a foregone conclusion. When Koepka left Florida State for the European Challenge Tour in the spring of 2012, he was taking a leap of faith, adhering to the old adage that sometimes you have to take a step backward to take a step forward. He would learn how to win, get his ranking up -- that was the plan. He didn’t think he would try horsemeat in Kazakhstan.
He did all of the above. Koepka won in bunches and worked his way up to the European Tour, and then the PGA TOUR. The rest is history, Koepka winning the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open at bomber-friendly TPC Scottsdale, and the U.S. Open. At 27, he had arrived.
Not that Koepka doesn’t still march to his own drummer. Instead of teaming up with someone like his pal Dustin Johnson for the two-man Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Koepka called his little brother, Chase, who had been a top collegiate player from the University of South Florida. People raised eyebrows, and while Koepka insisted his brother could really play, he also admitted he wasn’t sure how it would go.
“We could kill each other or it could be an awesome week,” he said.
It was the latter, as the Brothers K tied for fifth. Another maverick move had paid off for Koepka, one of the most dynamic players in the game.
Current 2017-18 position: 25th
Playoff appearances: 3
TOUR Championship appearances: 2
Best result: 10th (2017)
INSIGHTS FROM THE INSIDERS
PGATOUR.COM’s Insiders offer their expert views on what to expect from Brooks Koepka in 2018.
TOUR INSIDER by Ben Everill
It was fitting Koepka won the first U.S. Open after best friend Dustin Johnson did the same. The pair are often inseparable – comparing workout routines and methods in their quest to get better. While Koepka hasn’t reached the heights of his friend on the course, he certainly has the potential to do so. Combining brute force with an improving finesse and a killer putting game when it’s on is always going to prove tough to beat. Another poster child for the athletic golfer.
FANTASY INSIDER by Rob Bolton
Let's face it, most golfers don't come out of Central Casting, but he's not just any golfer. It was already impressive and compelling that he navigated the Challenge Tour en route to his eventual position as a fixture on the PGA TOUR, but it'd have been merely a nice story without the success. Gamers knew he had a major title in him, but that he already picked off the U.S. Open as a 27-year-old transformed his teeth-cutting on the European Tour's developmental circuit as a cute precursor. This is to say that while lifting the trophy at Erin Hills was a new experience, it looked entirely right. So would a spot atop the Official World Golf Ranking.
EQUIPMENT INSIDER by Jonathan Wall
Koepka enjoyed his best season on TOUR without an equipment contract. He continues to use TaylorMade's 2016 M2 driver; his only Nike club that remains from his days as a Swoosh equipment staffer is a Vapor Fly Pro 3-iron featuring Fujikura's Pro 95 Tour Spec X shaft. Mizuno JPX-900 Tour irons were designed for Koepka in the hopes of getting him to sign with the company when he became a free agent. Still plays a mixture of Vokey SM5 and SM4 TVD wedges. Scotty Cameron Tour Only T10 Select Newport 2 was in the bag going back to his days as a Titleist staffer. Remains to be seen if he'll sign on somewhere in 2018.
STYLE INSIDER by Greg Monteforte
Unlike the other Nike athletes on TOUR who favor sporty looks, Koepka puts a different spin on his Nike threads by opting for many of the brand’s more classic kits. Fresh off of his 2017 U.S. Open victory, look for Koepka to join the ranks of Jason Day and Rory McIlroy as one of Nike’s front men in 2018.