DADE CITY, FL — For Chase Koepka there is no buckling under the pressure, even if it is coming from your older brother.
Brooks Koepka is Chase’s older sibling by four years, and is a golf pro on the European Tour. So, with Brooks watching his every shot, Chase knew he had to bring his A game.
“It takes a lot to impress me, but [Chase] has impressed me a lot, and not just this week,” said Brooks Koepka.
Brooks played in the same tournament last year, and was giving pointers to his younger brother throughout the day.
Chase Koepka started the day at -2 after putting up a 70 in Round 1. He opened the day with an early bogey on the second hole, but responded with birdies on the third and eighth.
His best shot came on the 10th, where after a decent drive hit his second over the tree and laid it just four feet from the hole. Koepka would sink in the four-foot putt for birdie, but was still marveling at his second shot.
“That was definitely the best shot of the day [because] I was struggling a little bit,” he said. “I just wanted to hit a pretty good iron shot and I pulled it off really good and that’s a tough hole today. I was happy with a birdie on that one.”
While golf is a game of patience and accuracy, the mental game is a true test of how good a player is, especially in hot conditions.
After a superb drive on the par-5 13th, Koepka would struggle the rest of the hole, leading to a four-putt double bogey. Head Coach Chris Malloy quickly saw the frustration in his young freshman, and had a few words to calm him down. Following the round, Koepka gave a lot of credit to his coach for keeping him calm and composed.
“He just told me to stay confident in my game. It was tough. I was frustrated after the 13th but my coach was right there with me as it happens and just told me to cheer up.“
The coaches’ words stuck with the young kid from West Palm Beach, FL., and faced some more trouble on the 17th after his first two shots went bunker-to-bunker. He would later go up and down to save par with a good putt from nine feet away.
Malloy recruited Chase’s older brother Brooks to Florida State five years ago, and when he moved to South Florida last year, his first recruit was younger brother Chase.
While he finished with a higher score than Sunday, Chase Koepka said that his game is right where he wants it to be.
“I’m really impressed with my game, didn’t drive it as well as I wanted to today but overall it’s been really good and every time I go out it gets a little better.”
With two top-5 finishes this season, he will start Tuesday five back of the leader and will aim for his first NCAA win of the season with an abundance of confidence.
“I think I can put up a 66 easily. I’m birdying all the par-4’s, just got to take care of the par 5’s.”