Earlier this summer, Brooks Koepka strutted into Shinnecock Hills as the defending U.S. Open champion, perhaps still overshadowed by other hard-charging American stars (including GOLF’s 2017 POY, Justin Thomas). But after powering his way to a win at Shinny, and again at the PGA Championship at Bellerive — becoming just the fifth player in history to pull off that U.S. Open-PGA double dip in the same year — there’s no discounting Koepka now. Of course, the 28-year-old Floridian didn’t do it alone. Many people, places and things coalesced and contributed to his historic season.
Notably, Koepka doesn’t have an equipment deal, but he sports the Nike swoosh on all of his threads, and as his workouts with trainer Joey D (see below) have progressed, those Nike polos have only gotten tighter. He also reps NetJets and Rolex.
THE LITTLE BROTHER: CHASE KOEPKA
After a fine career at the University of South Florida, Brooks’s little bro is now a pro. He teamed with Brooks to finish fifth at last year’s Zurich Classic, but Chase is playing most of his tournament golf in Europe. Straight from his big brother’s playbook.
THE U.S. OPEN
While many of his fellow competitors griped about the setup at fast and fiery Shinnecock (see: Mickelson, Phil), Koepka kept his head down and shot 72-68 on the weekend to become the event’s first repeat winner since Curtis Strange in 1988-89.
THE POPS AND THE COACH
Bob Koepka (below), a scratch player, ID’d his son’s talent early. When Brooks was 11, Bob sent him to PGA pro Warren Bottke, who at the time gave lessons at a club in Palm Beach County. Bottke sharpened the kid’s game for the next level: Florida State.
Koepka carries a mixed bag of sticks, including a TaylorMade M4 driver, Mizuno JPX900 irons, Titleist Vokey SM7 wedges and a Scotty Cameron T10 Select Newport 2 prototype putter. Sometimes it pays to go it alone.
Joey Diovisalvi (below), aka Joey D, puts Koepka and Dustin Johnson through punishing workouts to prep them for golf’s most excruciating exams. Are golfers athletes? In GOLF’s June issue, Joey D took that question head on: “That’s ridiculous. That’s insulting. I would challenge anyone, anywhere, to step into the gym with DJ and Brooks and say these guys are not hardcore jocks.” Okay, fella. No argument here.
THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
Koepka never blinked as Tiger Woods ignited the Bellerive crowd two groups in front of him during a Sunday charge. Koepka’s bloodless 66 clipped Tiger by two and set a new PGA scoring record (264). He also became the first player to win two majors in one year since Jordan Spieth in 2015.
Koepka has been dating telegenic model/actress Jena Sims since 2016, and she’s greeted him on the 72nd hole at each of his major conquests. The duo keeps a low profile, but you can get a taste of Brooks’s off-course life on her saucy Instagram page.
Claude Harmon III began working with Koepka in 2013, the same season he won three Challenge Tour titles. Among many valuable lessons, Brooks credits Harmon, the son of Butch, for teaching him to fade the ball off the tee, which helps him control his considerable power.
Rickie Elliott, from Northern Ireland, grew up playing Royal Portrush and had a decorated junior career. He first looped for Koepka at the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
Koepka’s workout pal, Dustin Johnson, won the U.S. Open at Oakmont in 2016, which means that the storied trophy has now stayed between friends for three years running.
Hey, a little extra motivation never hurts. Koepka still simmers over perceived slights. But will he be overlooked now that he’s a three-time major champ? Don’t bet on it.