May 28, 2012
Throughout his career as a golfer, Florida State senior Brooks Koepka has overcome challenges and proved he is a top competitor. The Wellington, Fla., native made huge waves in high school earning the area High School Golfer of the Year in 2006 and 2007 by the Palm Beach Post and Sun Sentinel newspapers. Since then, Koepka continued to succeed in his game, earning ACC Freshman of the Year in 2009. Koepka also became the sixth player in ACC history to be named ACC Golfer of the Year multiple times in 2010 and 2012 and is one of only three players in ACC history to earn multiple Golfer of the Year Awards and be named the Freshman of the Year during his career.
"The Player of the Year awards are nice," said Koepka. "The Freshman of the Year was unexpected. I didn't really have those expectations coming in. It was a shock; I was just trying to make the team as a freshman. Hopefully we can add to that this week."
At the same time, head coach Trey Jones never doubted Koepka or his abilities.
"A lot of people would think it is hard for him to improve, but the more talented the player the more rapidly you see the development," said Jones. "He's gotten better every year."
Koepka, as well as the rest of the Seminole's men's golf team, earned a trip to the NCAA Championships which begin Tuesday after finishing in a tie for third place in the NCAA Southwest Regional Championships. They are one of 30 teams who will compete for the coveted title of National Champion at the NCAA Division I Men's Golf National Championship final at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. The Seminoles are playing in the championship finals for the second time in the last three seasons. They finished third during their last trip in 2009.
"It would be nice to go out with a bang," said Koepka. "We need to take care of the small things first before winning a national championship. If everybody can focus on staying in the moment then we should be fine, but it would be a nice way to go out on a good career here."
So far this season, Koepka has captured three medals in the 10 events in which he has played. Of his 10 tournaments this season, Koepka has finished in the top 20 eight times as well as the top 10 four times. Koepka shot a season low 66 during the first round of the Brickyard Collegiate and during the third round of the Seminole Intercollegiate, finishing first in both events. However, his best performance this season came during the FAU Spring Break Invitational where he shot 14 below par and 199 between the three rounds.
"All three wins are special to me," said Koepka. "Winning your home golf tournament is nice; then going down to West Palm Beach and having a lot of family and friends out was special too."
Still, one more win would add to his already extensive résumé.
During the team's last trip to the NCAA Championships in 2009, Koepka shot 2 under par and finished in a tie for 18th place. At the same time, Coach Jones believes they have the ability to finish better this year around.
"At this point in time it's obviously 30 really good teams," said Jones. "There are no secrets at this point; there is no silver bullet. It's just a bunch of good players and we have the talent to be there right at the end if we do what we're capable of doing."
Koepka understands the importance of this tournament and how his senior leadership can help influence others around him.
"I need to step up to the plate and try to show the younger guys how it's done," said Koepka. "I just need to lead by example and show them the way."
Entering the tournament, Koepka is ranked No. 19 in the GolfStat Cup Rankings and No. 21 among all collegiate athletes in the Sagarin Rankings by GolfWeek. Koepka is also ranked No. 51 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
Florida State's men's team is ranked No. 19 in the latest rankings by GolfStat and GolfWeek. The Seminoles will be paired with Florida and Kent State and are set to tee off at 10 a.m. (EST) on Tuesday.
By Ryan Syrkus Florida State Sports Information