Tampa Bay Sports Day

GOLF: Former ‘Nole Brooks Koepka Wins the U.S. Open

Photo by FSU/ Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY

The good times continue to roll for the Florida State Men’s Golf program as Seminole Alum Brooks Koepka broke into the professional golf spotlight by winning the U.S. Open on Sunday evening at Erin Hills.

Koepka won what is considered the most difficult major in epic fashion, shooting 16-under for what is tied for the lowest score vs. par at a U.S. Open ever. His impressive score is only matched by Rory McIlroy’s signature 16-under performance at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., in 2011.

Koepka, who competed for Florida State from 2009-12 and was a two-time All-American in 2010 and 2012, finished emphatically in the final round with a 5-under 67. He essentially sealed his first major on holes 14-16, recording three straight birdies to put the U.S. Open out of reach.

The three-time tournament winner at Florida State was quick to thank his family, friends and support team when talking to Curtis Strange at the trophy presentation.

“I don’t know what to say right now, but it’s pretty cool,” Koepka said. “It was a real team effort. It’s awesome. To get calls, text messages last night was special. Everyone giving me a piece of advice, stick to what I’ve done, that’s what I did today. I felt so confident out there, it was great.”

The native of West Palm Beach becomes the fourth Seminole to win a golf major and the first since current analyst Paul Azinger won the 1993 PGA Championship. Jeff Sluman took home the 1988 PGA Championship while Hubert Green won the 1977 U.S. Open and the 1985 PGA Championship.

“He came in confident and he maintained his confidence,” Azinger said in his post-major analysis on FOX. “The anxiety aspect, he played the Ryder Cup last year and said he wouldn’t be nervous and he wasn’t nervous. His dreams came true. He made history today.”

FSU head coach Trey Jones, who coached Koepka, took part in an in-game interview at the College World Series on ESPN2, talking in the middle of the fourth in a game between Florida and TCU. Jones is in Omaha with his son Drew rooting on Florida State baseball.

“As any coach knows, it’s an unbelievable experience,” Jones said. “They play the secondary role as parents when you have them at 18-22. I’m almost at a loss for words. When Brooks came in he had an amazing amount of talent to do what he did, he was the ACC Freshman of the Year and two-time ACC Player of the Year. One thing Brooks did was he took advantage of every opportunity Florida State gave him, from our facilities, coaches, starting in the lineup to winning golf tournaments.”

Koepka becomes the 10th golfer from a current ACC school to win the U.S. Open, as well as the second Seminole (Hubert Green in 1977). Besides it being Koepka’s first major win, it was his second professional win after winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 2015. He also went 3-1 in his first Ryder Cup appearance last fall.

Koepka’s win comes at a time when the Florida State golf program is riding high. Less than two weeks ago, Jack Nicklaus visited the Don Veller Seminole Golf Course and announced his Nicklaus Design team would be doing a thorough re-design of the golf course.

Last Sunday, Seminole standout Daniel Berger won the FedEx St. Jude Classic for the second straight year in Memphis. The good news is now followed by Koepka winning one of the most coveted trophies in professional golf.

Since 2014, Koepka has earned four Top-5 finishes in majors and five Top-10 marks.

Following Koepka in second place was Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and Brian Harman of the United States at 12-under.