The future stars of world golf arrive on Scottish shores for this week’s Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts, and the meteoric rise of 2013 champion Brooks Koepka (pictured by Getty Images) is sure to provide huge inspiration for The European Tour’s next generation.
The American stormed through the Challenge Tour ranks in the space of 13 months and has since gone on to become one of the most promising young talents in the game, his top five finish in the US Open Championship two weeks ago justifying the hype which surrounded the 22 year old this time last year in the quaint surroundings of Aviemore.
As various players, both Scottish and international, filed through the press centre at Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club 12 months ago, answering questions about the young Floridian, the large media presence began to grasp what they were dealing with.
There were various second-hand accounts of experienced European Tour and Challenge Tour professionals, one who had once played with Greg Norman, stating that Koepka was the best player they had ever seen in the flesh.
Greig Hutcheon, who was around during the time of 2014 US Open Champion Martin Kaymer’s rapid rise through the Challenge Tour, said he has never seen such hype and heard such high praise since the German’s brief but glorious stint on the Tour.
Koepka himself talked openly about competing in Majors with the kind of matter-of-fact confidence that is rare in the Challenge Tour ranks, for fear of sounding over-ambitious and cocky. Yet it never came across that way from the affable and honest American, and now the golf world is beginning to see why.
His career-changing victory at Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club last year, which earned him full European Tour status, sparked an incredible run of form that has seen Koepka go from a promising young upstart to global player.
The day after his third victory of the 2013 season on the banks of the Spey, Koepka – who had admitted he was exhausted following a run of nine consecutive events – travelled overnight to Sunningdale and The Open Championship Local Qualifying, where he brushed off any fatigue and duly beat some of the world’s most experienced professionals to win the 36-hole qualifier.
A month later, after a break at home in the States, Koepka returned to Scotland to record a tied 12th finish in his first appearance as a European Tour Member at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, before making the cut at his first Open Championship at Muirfield.
An even more incredible Major experience was to follow a month later as Koepka was drawn alongside 14-time Major winner Tiger Woods in the final group of the US PGA Championship.
The 24 year old has since come close to earning a first win on the US PGA Tour before securing his US PGA Tour card courtesy of that superb performance at Pinehurst, where his fellow former Challenge Tour graduate Kaymer claimed victory.
The 156 players arriving on Scottish shores this week, including some of Europe and the world’s hottest young prospects as well as a plethora of former European Tour winners and Ryder Cup stars, will have plenty of inspiration as they chase their dreams of playing among the world’s elite.
Source: European Tour