Oh, brother, it’s the Strakas
Sam Straka says he can feel it when his identical twin, Sepp, is about to three-putt. Is he serious?
April 11, 2022
By Cameron Morfit , PGATOUR.COM
- Sam Straka caddies for his brother Sepp at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. (Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Sam Straka could be in another city and even another state, but he can tell when his identical twin brother, Sepp, is about to hit a good or bad shot.
This has not been proven.
“He claims to know certain things,” says Sepp, the introvert of the two, who at The Honda Classic in February became the first player from Austria to win on the PGA TOUR.
His origin story is unusual, to say the least, amongst the best players in the world.
The twins’ mom, Mary was working the shop at Fontana Golf Club outside Vienna when their father, Peter, happened in to peruse the gear. “That’s literally how they met,” Sam says. “He came in to buy a club.” Still, soccer was the twins’ preferred sport, Sepp the goalie.
Mary is from South Georgia and spoke English to the boys. Sam took up golf first, and coerced Sepp into playing, too. The family spent summers in Georgia, which reduced the culture shock when the family moved from Vienna to Valdosta when Sepp and Sam were 14.
Sam tore up the junior golf scene and was recruited by Georgia men’s golf coach Chris Haack; Sepp came along as part of the deal, a sort of college-golf BOGO.
Then, in Athens, it all flipped, Sepp becoming the better player.
Sam, who was Sepp’s caddie at the 2020 Olympic Games, is a realtor in Valdosta. Sepp, who lives in Birmingham, Alabama, is chasing his second win. After making the cut in his first Masters, he heads to this week’s RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in the middle of his fourth and easily his best season. PGATOUR.COM caught up with the brothers.
Sepp: “We’re very different in just about every way. He’s kind of loud and outgoing, and I’m more introverted. But we’re very close.”
Sam: “I’m two important minutes older than him, so I’m older and wiser. I’ve joked that I can always tell when he’s about to three-putt. But that’s not true.”
Sepp: “He was a better golfer in high school and would probably tell you he’s better now.”
Sam: “We probably wouldn’t have wound up at Georgia were it not for me. I just had a better time playing tournaments and was more highly recruited.”
Sepp: “He kind of got Hacker’s (Georgia coach Chris Haack) eyes on me.”
Sam: “It just so happened that they had two spots.”
Sepp: “He beat me 70% of the time until my fourth year in college – my redshirt junior year. I got out of the chipping yips; it helped to get a ball up and down every now and again. I still wasn’t a good chipper, but at least I was hitting greens with my chips.”
Sam: “It kind of flipped halfway through college. I did four years, he did five.”
Sepp: “John Davenport is my regular caddie; my brother fills in if Dav can’t do it. He had some visa issues getting to Japan for the Olympics, so my brother filled in. He was never full-time.”
Sam: “We had a great time in Tokyo. He got off to a dream start, shot 9 under. I just had to keep up and hand him a club.” (Sepp finished T10.) “Best putting round I’ve seen him have. I was in Valdosta when he won The Honda Classic. I’m scared to jinx him when he’s in contention.”
Sepp: “Winning the Honda gave me more confidence in that situation, but the confidence has been building. I’ve been hitting the ball a lot better and seeing results. I’m a really good driver of the ball, I hit it pretty straight for how far I hit it, and I’ve developed into being a good putter.”
Sam: “I’m a better cook. I don’t mean to brag, but I can lay it down.”
Sepp: “My brother is a good cook; he’s better than I am. I’m getting there. I make a pretty good schnitzel. It’s in a pan, basically veal beat really thin and pan-fried.”
Sam: “Kung pao chicken for me. I make a good Asian noodle dish. Chicken masala. Schnitzel.”
Sepp: “My favorite city for food is probably Houston, El Tiempo for Mexican food. I’ll go there two times during the week, maybe three, depending on how the week is going. Carnitas. Looking at me, you’d assume I can put away a lot of food. (Fellow Georgia Bulldogs alumnus) Brendon Todd teases me about it. He’s so skinny, but he crushes food. I don’t know where he puts it.”
Sam: “Mom cooked at the Masters.”
Sepp: “We had the whole family there, my parents, and a bunch of friends, too, so it’s been nice to have everybody around. On any one day we’ve had probably about 12. People are sharing tickets, though, so for the whole week it’s been about 25, 30. My mom is the cook in the family.”
Sam: “Beef stroganoff.”
Sepp: “Beef stroganoff. Some hamburgers. And we got takeout a few times. Hilton Head is tough for me; I’ve only been there once when all the restaurants were open. The other times was COVID. I’m looking forward to getting back there and checking it out.”