Brooks Koepka used a strong showing in the final round at Shinnecock Hills to secure his second straight U.S. Open championship. Koepka has become one of the biggest names and golf and these are 7 things you might now know about the back-to-back U.S. Open championship.
After failing by three shots to advance out of the second stage of qualifying school in Texas, Brooks Koepka was left with no status on any tour. While others in his similar situation, like Jordan Spieth, remained in the states to try and climb their way up the tour ladder, Koepka packed his bags and headed overseas. He spent the better part of two years playing on the Challenge Tour, Japanese Tour, and European Tour. Koepka played in Kazakhstan, Japan, Scotland, and seemingly everywhere in between. He picked up a combined 7 tour wins in that time, earning himself the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award on the European Tour in 2014. With a fourth-place finish in the 2014 U.S. Open, Koepka earned his PGA Tour card for the following season and hasn’t looked back.
With Koepka’s victory at Shinnecock Hills, he became the first back-to-back U.S. Open champion since Curtis Strange in 1989. However, that’s not the only record Koepka has flirted with. His 5-under 67 in the 2017 final round was the lowest final round by a U.S. Open champion since Tiger Woods’ 12-under 67 at Pebble Beach in 2000. Additionally, Koepka’s 16-under 272 in 2017 tied the record to par set by Rory McIlroy who shot 16-under 268 at Congressional in 2011.
That’s right. While Koepka holds a top 10 world ranking, he’s only won three times on the PGA Tour. His first victory came in February 2015 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, holding off the likes of Hideki Matsuyama, Ryan Palmer, and Bubba Watson. Then, of course, the 2017 U.S. Open was the first major championship and second PGA Tour victory for the then 27-year-old. While he only has three wins to his name, he’s been runner-up six times and has 24 top-10 finishes.
Koepka graduated from Florida State as one of the most successful golfers in ACC history. In addition to being a three-time All-American for the Seminoles, Koepka was named the ACC Freshman of the Year (2009) and was twice named ACC Men’s Golfer of the Year (2010,2012). He is one of six players in history to be named ACC Golfer of the Year multiple times and one of three players ever to be named ACC Golfer of the Year multiple times and be named Freshman of the Year. Koepka holds the school record for career stroke average (71.85) and single-season stroke average (71.09).
Koepka isn’t the only high-profile athlete to come out of his family. His great uncle, Dick Groat, was a two-time World Series champion with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Groat was the 1960 National League MVP and made eight All-Star appearances in his career. He also was drafted third overall in the 1952 NBA Draft by the Fort Wayne Pistons and now serves as a radio analyst for University of Pittsburgh basketball. Koepka has spoken about his love of baseball previously, and if not for a car accident at age 10, where he fractured his nose and sinus cavity then perhaps Koepka could have taken a different path. The injuries kept him from playing contact sports that summer and he spent most of his time at West Palm Beach’s public Okeeheelee Golf Course.
Brooks’ younger brother Chase is a professional golfer in Europe. Much like Brooks, Chase spent about a year and half on the Challenge Tour and now plays on the European Tour. The two played together in the Zurich Class of New Orleans in 2017, finishing tied for fifth.
It’s become clear that Koepka is very comfortable at the U.S. Open, but that’s not the only success he’s found at major championships. He’s played in 10 majors during his time on the PGA Tour and has five top ten finishes. Koepka has never missed the cut at a major and never finished lower than 33rd.