American Brooks Koepka has emulated the achievement of his close friend Peter Uihlein 12 months ago after being named the 2014 Sir Henry Cotton European Tour Rookie of the Year.
Koepka finished in eighth position on The Race to Dubai in his first full season on The European Tour, winning the Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the penultimate event of the Final Series, and recording four other top ten finishes to amass an impressive 2,631,873 points.
He was voted as winner of the prestigious award ahead of Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, whose tied sixth place finish in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai meant he finished a promising debut campaign in 36th position on The Race to Dubai.
In winning the Rookie of the Year Award, Koepka succeeds compatriot Uihlein, his close friend and housemate, having two years ago taken the decision to follow him across the Atlantic in an attempt to rise up the professional ranks, first on the European Challenge Tour and then on The European Tour.
Following his breakthrough win on the Challenge Tour in 2012, Koepka claimed a trio of titles in 2013 to earn automatic promotion to The European Tour, joining Uihlein who had secured his own status among Europe’s elite by winning the 2013 Madeira Islands Open.
Koepka recorded two top ten finishes on The European Tour in 2013 and finished the year in 113th position on the Race to Dubai, after becoming eligible for the final stretch of the season because of his hat-trick of wins on the Challenge Tour.
That extra experience certainly served him well in his first full season on The European Tour, which he showed early promise with a share of third place in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic before impressing in the Majors on home soil, finishing tied fourth in the US Open and tied 15th in the US PGA Championship.
He followed that with a share of third place in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland and a tied ninth place finish in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, before holding off Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter in Turkey for a maiden European Tour title, with the Rookie of the Year Award then confirmed in Dubai, where he recovered from illness in the opening round to finish with three sub-par rounds for a share of 42nd place.
“Winning the Rookie of the Year means so much,” said Koepka. “I've worked so hard this year, and to see the results is fun. To cap the year off with a win in Turkey, has made this year special, and it's a goal I've been working for since I was able to come out on Tour, and that was the goal starting the year.
“Looking back where I was two years ago, and then where I am today is special. So to win Turkey and win Rookie of the Year is amazing.
“Coming over, having nowhere to play and getting a win on The Challenge Tour, and then getting the promotion, was unbelievable. And now to win on The European Tour is special, and to win Rookie of the Year, you look at all the names, guys who have won it, especially last year; Pete Uihlein, so at least we can keep it in the house.”
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “Brooks has enjoyed a magnificent first full season on The European Tour, winning one of our Final Series events at the Turkey Airlines Open, recording a top five finish in a Major Championship, and finishing inside the top ten on The Race to Dubai.
“That would be a very good season for any player, but to do it in your first full season on The European Tour is even more impressive. The story of first Peter Uihlein winning the Rookie of the Year Award and now his close friend Brooks is quite a remarkable one, and it underlines the global appeal The European Tour has.”
Derek Lawrenson, Golf Correspondent for the Daily Mail and Chairman of the Association of Golf Writers, said: “No wonder they talk about the enormous benefits of a friendly rivalry. Twelve months after watching his great friend Peter Uihlein become the first American to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award, Brooks Koepka has now followed in his footsteps to become the 50th recipient of this prestigious prize.
“Over the years, we have become accustomed to seeing players prosper following a successful grounding on the Challenge Tour and the personable 24 year old Floridian, a three-time winner on that circuit in 2013, certainly added his name to the list of successful graduates with his wonderful 2014 season.
“The highlight, of course, was his accomplished success at the Turkish Airlines Open earlier this month. Not too many rookies would hold their nerve when Ian Poulter comes charging on the final day but Koepka did so to seal the first of what will surely prove to be many victories.
“Congratulations must go as well to the gifted young Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, who underlined his reputation as one of the young players to watch on Tour with his fine finish in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.”