Chase Koepka is aiming to follow in the famed footsteps of his older brother Brooks as the young American makes his European Challenge Tour debut at this week’s SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.
Fittingly, the younger of the Koepka brothers is picking up exactly where his brother left off on Europe’s top developmental tour – Brooks’ crucial third victory of the 2013 season came at Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club, earning him instant European Tour promotion.
He has since gone on to become one of the hottest young prospects in world golf – a win each on the European Tour and US PGA Tour, as well as three top tens in Major Championships in the last two years, have helped him rise to 15th in the Official World Golf Ranking and have made him a near-certainty for the USA team for this year’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.
Brooks pretty much just said to me, ‘stay focussed and have fun, just play smart out here and good golf rewards itself’
The 22 year old younger sibling is relishing the opportunity to emulate his brother on the European circuit and sees it is as a huge opportunity to mould his all-round game for professional life.
“It’s awesome to be here,” said the former University of South Florida student. “It’s a little bit different scenery for me but I’m enjoying it, and it’s a little bit cooler than back home which is actually quite nice.
“The last time I was in Europe, I was about nine or ten. I don’t remember too much about it but obviously a little bit different to be travelling on my own and being so far north of Scotland. I went to the Open in 2001 and played a little bit of golf but I’m playing proper golf here this week!
“It’s a great opportunity for me to grow my golf game at plenty of different levels and I think the Challenge Tour is a great place to start. Being able to see the world, you can’t really beat that.
“I turned professional about two weeks ago and I’ve been playing in a few mini-tour events around West Palm Beach area so this is the first big-time professional event for me.
“Brooks pretty much just said to me, ‘stay focussed and have fun, just play smart out here and good golf rewards itself’.”
Koepka remembers the day his brother claimed his fourth Challenge Tour victory, and third of the season, in Aviemore and believes that the way in which is brother took an alternative route to the top - building his game and confidence by travelling to countries and courses he would never have experienced in the USA - is an inspiration for all young players across the Atlantic.
“The way he did it, most people were probably a bit nervous about it,” he said. “But he embraced it and it was a great way to learn a little bit about himself and test his game at so many different levels and on different types of golf courses every week – which is a little bit different to golf in the States.
“He just felt like he became an all-round better golfer from being over here. I took that on so I wanted to do the same.
“When he won here I had just woken up and he was finishing up, but I remember calling him a little later and saying congrats because I knew it was his third win of the year which was big for him. He said the weather was rough that week but he just said he was glad he was able to do it.
“I think, learning how to win gave him a lot of confidence going forward and now on the PGA Tour, he’s won so many times he feels like he can do it out there and his next step is just to win a Major.
“I think there’s no real golf course that doesn’t suit him, maybe some people think he’s just a bomber, but really he’s been able to do well on every type of golf course which I think has a lot to do with him starting over here on the Challenge Tour. You learn how to hit irons off the tee, drivers off the tee, he learned how to develop his game at all levels.”