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Morgan Hill
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June 4, 2023 Open: Koepka’s overseas experience prepares him for play stateside

SAN MARTIN —Brooks Koepka’s passport is worn, the pages crinkled with stamps from all the use it’s received this year.
The 23-year-old PGA TOUR member has found success worldwide, visiting 15 different countries and picking up several stories and experiences along the way in his short career.
Now Koepka finds himself atop the leaderboard Friday at the Open, finishing -11 to score a 64 in the second day of the PGA TOUR’s 2014 season opening tournament. 
His score, however, isn’t even the best part Koepka said. Instead, it’s the opportunity to play in front of familiar faces — something he hasn’t had much experience as he’s spent most of his time in Europe.
“I think it’s awesome to be able to play (in front of) my family and things like that,” he said. “They haven’t been able to see me. I’m sure they were watching.”
Koepka eagled Hole 15 and scored four birdies on the back nine and four more on the front.  He leads the tournament by just two points — scoring 131 through two days — ahead of Robert Garrigus (-7) and Jim Herman (-9) who are tied for second with a total of 133.
There’s a lot on the line for the golfers of the Open, with the tournament featuring full FedEx Cup points as well as an invitation to the Masters for the champion. Despite all that’s at stake, Friday’s No.1 isn’t feeling any pressure.
“Yeah, it would be big,” Koepka said. “Obviously (it would) be nice to win and get status over here. But (if) you play good, everything kind of takes care of itself.”
After missing the cut at the 2012 U.S. Open, the Florida State alumni made a name for himself in Europe on the Challenge Tour, picking up a victory at the Challenge de Catalunya in Spain.
His success continued with a ‘W’ at the 2013 Montecchia Golf Open in Italy and another at the Fred Olsen Challenge de Espana, where he set the tournament record by scoring a 260 (-24).  Just three weeks later, Koepka picked up his third win on the Challenge Tour with a victory at the Scottish Hydro Challenge.
Playing week after week in Europe was a big change from the scarce playing time — about 10 tournaments a year — he saw in college. That increase in tournament play, Koepka said, has helped him prepare for life on the PGA TOUR.
“I didn’t have any status coming out (of college),” he said. “(I) didn’t play any Palmer Cups or Walker Cups (or) anything like that, so I went overseas to play. That was my opportunity over there and I took advantage of it.”
Though playing back in the U.S. has it’s advantages, Koepka said there’s nothing better than being able to play golf and see the world at the same time. He’s learned a lot and made a lot of memories — good and bad.
He had an unforgettable experience playing in the U.K., picking up the win in Scotland that he said holds a special place in his heart and he’s experienced the beauty of Switzerland all thanks to the club in his hands.
But one of the most memorable experiences for Koepka came in the dark of night in Keyna.
“I think I arrived at like midnight and I was taken on a little journey, a three-hour road trip. It was scary, I’ll be honest,” he said. “We went down some streets and stopped and he (the driver) wanted to stop and things like that, but I don’t even know. It was crazy. I was freaking out, but it worked out. I got to the hotel safely.”
Koepka’s whirlwind year will wrap up — most likely — in China at the BMW Masters two weeks from now. The young golfer is still looking to make a name for himself stateside, however, and said that if he can earn invites to tournaments here he certainly wouldn’t pass them up.
Regardless of what the future holds, Koepka said he’s hoping that his golf success continues and that he’s able to play in tournaments both here and across the pond.
“I would try to go back and fourth,” he said. “I mean (playing) every week over here is unbelievable, but play some tournaments over there still. You now, I think my game needs to be well rounded. I want to compete in (the) British Open and things like that. Going over there I think allows me to.”

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