Saturday 19 August 2017

Koepka rises above tough Challenge to finally triumph

Brooks Koepka with the US Open trophy. Photo: AP
Brooks Koepka with the US Open trophy. Photo: AP

James Corrigan

Never mind 'The Home of Golf', Scotland almost represented 'The End of Golf' for Brooks Koepka.

The US Open champion made the startling revelation in the wake of his amazing victory in the US Open at Erin Hills.

It is almost four years to the day since the then 23-year-old American shot a 62 in the third round of the Scottish Hydro Challenge at the Spey Valley Golf Club, near the Highlands skiing town of Aviemore.

He was within touching distance of the third Challenge Tour victory he needed to earn instant promotion to the European Tour, yet emotionally he was going downhill fast.

Koepka had been on the punishing Challenge Tour schedule, taking in events from Kazakhstan to Kenya.

"It was a low point," Koepka confessed. "I called my manager Blake Smith that night and I was like: 'I don't even want to play this final round - I just want to go home.'

Homesick

"I don't want to say I was homesick, I was just tired of golf, tired of travelling. Even though I had the lead, I wanted to get out."

Smith talked him out of it and Koepka duly went on to win, collecting £25,000 and a £25 trophy for his troubles.

Straight afterwards, Koepka jumped into his car to drive through the night to contest the Open qualifying at Sunningdale, before having to change his plans because of a tyre blowout and catch an early morning flight.

He underlined his talent by shooting rounds of 69 and 65 to win the qualifier and book his place at Muirfield.

That was his second major and he missed the cut, but he finished fourth in the next year's US Open and with two more top fives in the Majors in the next two years, he arrived at Erin Hills ready to fulfil his destiny. Koepka did so with an emphatic ball-striking display - hitting a remarkable 62 out of 72 greens in regulation - and equalling Rory McIlroy's record US Open low score to par of 16-under, beating Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama by four shots. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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