College Men

Wildman's Corner: Visiting with FSU's Koepka

Brooks Koepka at the NCAA Championship.
Brooks Koepka at the NCAA Championship. ( Tracy Wilcox )

Thursday, January 12, 2012

During his freshman year, Brooks Koepka held down the top spot of the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings for most of the fall. Since then, Brooks has had his ups and downs. To close out this fall, the Florida State senior is ranked fifth and won his first collegiate event at the Brickyard. Today, we catch up with the senior to talk about his last three-plus years at FSU.

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Q. How did you feel your fall went?

I think it went well. The team played well at the Brickyard and at Olympia Fields. At the U.S. Collegiate, we didn't play too well there, but it gave us things to work on. Things right now for me personally came down to putting in the hard work. When I made the commitment to putting in the extra hours and hard work, the results started to show.

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Q. Is there anything you are doing differently now that you didn't do the past two years with your game, any swing changes?

I went through a swing change last year and really struggled with it. At the end of last year, I went back to my teacher, Kevin Smeltz in Orlando, to go back to what I was originally doing with him. Everything has been clicking since then. These days, I spend a lot of time working on short game, especially with easy chips. I used to not put them to where they are easy tap-ins. Now I think it's gotten a lot better and under control. Off the tee, I now know where the ball is going and that's a better feeling than what I used to have.

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Q. Is it true you played banged up at the end of the fall?

Right before the Brickyard, my left hip slightly rotated and I played through pain. It's manageable now, which is good. The training staff isn't really sure how it happened, but it was probably from a lack of stretching and a little of everything with all the golf I do.

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Q. Florida State is currently ranked 20th in the country. Do you think the team is good enough to be a top-8 team and compete for a national title?

I think we are. I don't see why not. We have a real solid lineup with three seniors who have a lot of experience. We can play better then we did in the fall. The spring schedule should help us, because I don't think we have a tournament outside of the state of Florida. The spring schedule in front of us should help build our confidence and get us ready to compete for an ACC title at the end of the year.

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Q. When you see that the top-ranked team in the state of Florida is UNF, not UF or FSU, does it surprise you?

They have good players. Sean Dale is really good, and everyone knows that. They played with us at The Brickyard and played well. Schroeder is a good coach, and it doesn't surprise me at all. Hopefully at the end of the year, we'll be right there with them. It's great they are playing well, but we hope to top them at the end of the year.

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Q. Do you and your teammates ever just sit in the clubhouse and talk about other teams or players in college golf?

We talk about teams all the time. The past few years it's been Oklahoma State, and most recently it's been Alabama. Texas has been really good this year, and it's hard not to notice what they are doing. We definitely talk about them all. I think 'Bama is real good because I'm close to a lot of their players, and I know how good a lot of them are.

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Q. Do you want to play more match play in college golf, and how would you set up match-play tournaments?

I think it's fun. There really isn't a lot of tournaments, but I wish we played more throughout the season. I'd like to see maybe one a semester for a bunch of teams. At least try to put one on the schedule for each semester. Right now, most college golfers only play match play at the U.S. Am, U.S. Junior and Western (Amateur) growing up. We don't get many opportunities, but I wish we did because I think it's fun for the game.

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Q. You got your first collegiate win in the fall. Were you surprised how long it took you to win, or is that a tribute to how deep and competitive college golf is?

It's really competitive. I am surprised it took me so long to get a win. I'm glad I finally won one, and hope to put up some more in the spring. I really want to win the ACC Championship this year with my team. The year before I got to FSU, Drew Kittleson and Matt Savage were on the last team to win the ACC and I remember them always talking about winning it. They were real excited and proud about that accomplishment, and it's something I hope I can share with my teammates this year. I really want to win it.

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Q. This year, the NCAA Championship is at Riviera. How exciting is that for a college player to circle that on the team's schedule?

It's pretty neat. Anytime there's a (course where a) tour event or where a major has been played, and we get the chance to play on that course for something, it's special. Growing up, you see the holes on TV and it's neat to go out there and play holes that the golfers you grew up watching used to play on. NCAA championships are on great courses each year and hopefully we'll get there this year. It's one I really want to have the chance to compete on. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.