DADE CITY, FL — In a game where mental toughness triumphs above all, University of South Florida Bulls golfer Chase Koepka showed remarkable resiliency in his final round.
Koepka overcame a rough start to shoot a +3 at the USF Invitational on Tuesday, finishing in a tie for 10th place.
His final-round score alone does not begin to tell the story about his play, as it was a tale of two rounds for the varsity freshman.
On the front nine, Koepka, who shot even par for the tournament, had four bogies in a five-hole span, and the momentum he had built up heading into the final round (3-under par through the first two rounds) seemed to be evaporating.
“I put myself in positions where I couldn’t really make par,” said Koepka. “I had to grind a lot for par and it makes for a long round.”
However, the 18-year-old from West Palm Beach, FL., showed the type of resiliency that you would not expect to find in a freshman who has only played in a handful of college tournaments. Koepka immediately birdied holes 10 and 11 in succession.
Impressive par saves
From there he would go on to make a series of impressive par saves, with the only blemish being a three-putt bogie on the final hole.
Regardless, Koepka knew he had salvaged what otherwise could have been a disastrous round, playing with poise way beyond his years.
“I was pretty flustered today but I did some pretty good shots to keep it to where I did have a possibility for par with my short game today, so I was pretty happy with that.”
According to his father Bob, one of Chase’s best attributes as a golfer is his ability to bounce back quickly from his struggles, and not let his frustrations get the best of him. Chase Koepka demonstrated that fact numerous times Tuesday.
He has been working hard with his coach Chris Malloy to improve the mental aspect of his game, and for an 18-year-old, he is definitely ahead of the curb.
Koepka has an older brother Brooks, who currently plays professional golf overseas on the European circuit.
While Tuesday was not an ideal performance overall, Chase Koepka showed that he has the type of well-rounded game and the mental foundation to perhaps one day turn pro himself, and while he obviously has a long way to go to reach that dream, it probably wouldn’t be wise to bet against him.