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Brooks Koepka is teaming up with his brother Chase at the Zurich Classic

By Scott Rabalais
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If you have a brother, you know what Brooks Koepka meant when he talked about playing with younger brother Chase in the new team format in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

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"We could kill each other, or it could be an awesome week," Brooks said before the tournament began.

Thursday definitely leaned toward the awesome, or at least the exceptionally neato. Team Koepka ham and egged it for a quite respectable 3-under-par 69 that had the brothers in golf tied for 11th after one loop around TPC Louisiana.

"I'm not surprised at what we shot," Brooks said. "I don't know if people thought I was just bringing some random dude that I grew up with from the club, but he's a really good player. To be in the position we're in, I'm not surprised."

Brooks Koepka is a proven commodity. He only has one win on the PGA Tour coming two years ago in the Phoenix Open, but he has $1.9 million in earnings this season and is ranked No. 19 in this week's world rankings.

This is the first PGA Tour start for alleged random dude Chase Koepka, three years Brooks' junior, courtesy of a sponsor's exemption. It's also the first time they've played together in this kind of team format, with alternate shot Thursday and best ball Friday. The former South Florida standout (big brother Brooks played at Florida State) spends most of his time continent hopping on the European Tour.

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Novice though Chase may be in the ways of the PGA Tour, Brooks knows his little brother can play. He wants everyone else to know it, too.

"He's used to putting it right next to the hole and making some putts," Brooks said, "whereas we have been known to spray it a little bit off the tee."

Brooks put it right next to the hole as the Koepkas started off on the par-4 10th hole. Chase split the fairway with his first PGA Tour strike, a 278-yard drive, then Brooks nailed the pin from 128 yards, the ball stopping nine inches away.

"Watching him hit the pin on 10, that was awesome," Chase said.

The rest of their first nine was less than awesome by any standard. The Koepkas bogeyed the easyish par-4 13th and the hard as nails par-4 15th, the toughest hole Thursday that TPC Louisiana had to offer.

They turned to the front nine and went off birdie, birdie, birdie, however, capped by a 35-yard snake of a birdie putt that Chase sank on the difficult par-3 third.

"Making the bomb on 3," Chase said of his favorite highlight. "You didn't see many putts go in the first 10 holes or so. Seeing the ball go in on three was a real confidence booster."

This year's Zurich Classic is making history as the first team event on the PGA Tour since the 1981 Walt Disney World National Team Championship. The Koekpas aim to stretch history one step further by become just the second pair of brothers to win a team event in Tour history, joining Danny and David Edwards who won at Disney in 1980.

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Or, they could join legions of brothers who short-circuited each other in golf and countless other endeavors.

Brooks is confident at least that won't happen.

"We've definitely hurt each other's feelings before," he said. "Nothing we haven't done. It's pretty relaxed. I'm pretty chill on the golf course. Nothing is really going to get to me."

There is the little matter of winning pressure, of course. A team win for Brooks would be career affirming for one of the legions of pro golf's twentysomethings who has become of the most consistent performers on tour. For Chase it would be career changing, shoving open the door to PGA Tour opportunity with a two-plus year exemption into most tour events.

Brothers helping each other live out their dreams.

It's hard to be much more awesome than that.

This article is written by Scott Rabalais from The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

 

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