Going pro a matter of confidence for Florida State University senior

DADE CITY, Fla. — Florida State University golfer Brooks Koepka seems to have everything going for him, except for a big thing called confidence.

Koepka, 21, shot a two-under 70 on Monday after opening with a 74 in the University of South Florida Invitational at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club.

He wasn’t the only FSU player to struggle during the windy first round, the team’s five players combined for a score of 27-over-par placing them 14 out of 17 teams in the tournament. Koepka’s team finished second place in the same tourney last year.

It’s surprising the senior is so critical of himself considering the success he’s had during his four-year collegiate career with the FSU’s Seminoles.

“Lately I haven’t been very good with confidence,” said Koepka. “I haven’t hit many putts that have been good so I’ve been struggling with that, but today helped.”

The 2007 Florida High School champion in group 1A enjoyed immediate success in the NCAA, taking the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Player and Freshman of the Year honours in 2009, only the seventh player in history to win both in the same season.

It was also just the second time in school history that a Seminole took ACC Player of the Year, the first being Christian Raynor in 1994.

In October Koepka won his first tournament, the Brickyard Collegiate Championship, helping to wash away the sour taste of four career runner-up finishes.

His victory didn’t come as a surprise to Callaway Golf representative Matt Cullen.

“He’s the top senior in the country, in my opinion,” said Cullen, who was on hand to watch Koepka play on Monday. “He’s real, naturally athletic.”

Fellow FSU player Joaquin Lolas, who shot opening round scores of 78 and 75, has also been impressed by his teammate.

“He hits it pretty far, plays some par 5s where people are hitting 3-woods and 6-irons,” said Lolas. “He’s a very determined person, really knows what he wants and is focused towards that.”

That focus right now is on FSU and the rest of the season, said Koepka, but he admitted he will be going professional when his Seminoles days are behind him.

“He works really hard but at the same time he’s a funny kid and able to have a great time with the team,” continued Lolas. “He’s a great person and we will definitely miss him.”

His departure is still a little down the road, FSU has another round on Tuesday and tournaments booked through May, plenty of time to hit some putts and build up more confidence.