Brooks Koepka is a big, powerful golfer with PGA and European Tour wins at the highest level of golf. His brother, USF junior Chase Koepka, relies on his accuracy and strategy to work his way up to the professional level.
Two different golfers, but one consistent goal: be the best.
“He has the best work ethic of anyone on the team and players see that,” coach Steven Bradley said. “When your best player is also your hardest worker, it speaks volumes for your team.”
Chase has risen to the number one spot on the USF team and continues to progress, having become the first golfer in USF history to average shooting under par for the season in 2013-14.
On the pro circuit, Brooks continues to rise in the ranks, as he secured his first PGA Tour win of his career Feb. 1, shooting 15-under at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. His success carries over into his little brother’s game.
“He’s been a big help with my game and pretty much just picking his brain, learning from him, because in my opinion, he’s one of the best players in the world right now,” Chase said. “Being able to be at home and practice with him and play with him and his friends, it’s a big advantage for me.
“Just to know that I can play alongside him and he’s out winning on the European Tour, winning on the PGA Tour, it gives me confidence.”
Chase knows the advantage he has with his brother and doesn’t mind that he has to spend some time lurking in his shadow.
“I know he’s going to be very good for me once I turn pro,” Chase said. “He can help me go the right direction, whether it’s going to Europe or staying here. I get compared to him all the time, but I don’t mind it. He’s done so well in every stage he’s played in whether it’s junior am, collegiate or now pro. Since he’s done so well for himself, I don’t mind it at all.”
Coming out of the short offseason, Chase now sets his sights on bouncing back from a disappointing fall finish.
“We didn’t finish off the fall exactly how we would’ve liked,” Chase said. “We had some tough competition in our last two events that really tested us, but we also had some difficult weather that we weren’t used to playing in.”
After winning its first tournament and finishing second in the following tournament, USF finished fifth out of 11 at Erin Hills and sixth out of 10 at Gifford Collegiate.
“We had a couple mediocre finishes and I think we’re a better team than that,” sophomore Rigel Fernandes said. “I don’t want to say we got complacent, but there were things we could’ve done that we were doing in the first two tournaments. We just have to get back to working hard and doing the little things for the spring season.”
A bright spot for USF in the fall was the emergence of freshman Claudio Correa, who has contributed early for coach Bradley and the Bulls.
“Claudio has been a real pleasant surprise,” Bradley said. “For him to come in and play the way he’s played and solidify himself not only in the top five (on the team), but probably one of our top three players, it’s been big for us.”
The Bulls head to Gainesville this weekend for the Gator Invitational, but also have tournaments in Los Cabos, Mexico, Tallahassee and North Carolina before returning home for the AAC championship as well as the NCAA’s in May.
The Bulls are ready to erase last year’s disappointing postseason finish and make a run at a conference and national championship.
“That was the lowest feeling you could have,” Fernandes said in regards to the team’s 14th place finish in the AAC championship. “You never want to feel that again.”