5 Things: Brooks Koepka grabs Frys.com lead
Friday, October 11, 2013
Brooks Koepka won three times last season on the European Challenge Tour. Now he's hoping to notch his first PGA Tour victory after taking the second-round lead at the Frys.com Open.
Koepka, 23, made nine birdies, an eagle and three bogeys Friday en route to a second-round 7-under 64. At 11 under, he leads Jason Kokrak by one shot entering Saturday's third round at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif.
A former All-American at Florida State, Koepka is competing this week on a sponsor exemption. He started his round with two bogeys in his first five holes, but closed his opening nine with an eagle at the par-5 15th and birdies on Nos. 17-18. He closed the front nine with birdies at Nos. 8-9.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from Friday at the Frys.com Open:
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1. KOEPKA ENJOYING THE RIDE: Brooks Koepka has had quite the start to his professional golf career. It's also been a unique one for a 23-year-old Florida native.
Koepka, a former All-American at Florida State, played mostly in Europe last season, competing on the Euro Challenge Tour. He won three times to earn his European Tour card through 2014.
"I like to be by myself," Koepka said. "Traveling the world, you got to be able to be alone a little bit. Going over there really gave me the opportunity to focus on golf."
Not only did he find success on the golf course, but he also found out more about himself.
"Everything doesn't come easy all the time," said Koepka, who also won on the Challenge Tour in 2012. "You just (have to) stay patient and try to enjoy the ride."
Koepka is enjoying that ride so far, although he hopes to take it back to the United States more this season.
He is competing this week on a sponsor exemption. It's his first PGA Tour start in a non-major – he missed the cut at the 2012 U.S. Open and the 2013 Open Championship, and finished 70th at the 2013 PGA Championship.
Koepka's next start will come in the European Tour's BMW Masters Oct. 24-27 in China. After that, Koepka hopes to make a couple more starts on the PGA Tour before the new year.
“I’m going to play over here a little bit more, I hope,” Koepka said. “Right now, I need invites. I’d like to play over here and in Europe. That would be the ultimate goal.”
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2. BACK IN SHAPE: It was a tough go for Robert Garrigus last season.
He started the year with five straight top 25s, including two top 10s. But he struggled after that with just three top 25s and no top 10s in 17 starts. To make matters worse, he missed the cut at the Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship a year after qualifying for the Tour Championship.
So what did Garrigus do following his playoff exit this year? He hit the gym.
"I took a month off and didn't touch a club for probably 20-25 days and I hit the gym the whole time," Garrigus said. "I felt like I had let my cardio slide and just wasn't working hard enough."
In better shape, Garrigus is looking to get off to a good early-season start again. He's tied with Jim Herman for third place at 9 under, two shots back of leader Brooks Koepka, after carding an 8-under 63 on Friday. Garrigus' round included nine birdies and just one bogey.
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3. LOVE FEELING GREAT: Davis Love III has already expressed his desire to play on Tom Watson's U.S. Ryder Cup team next fall. To do that, he'll need to play well this season on the PGA Tour.
So far, so good for the 49-year-old 20-time Tour winner.
Love carded a second straight 2-under 69 Friday at CordeValle and enters the weekend tied for 21st at 4 under.
"I'm a little rusty, which is to be expected," said Love, who also made four birdies for the second straight round Friday.
Love had played less than 72 holes since his last Tour event, the Wyndham Championship in August. He played 15 holes filling in for Zach Johnson during a practice round at last week's Presidents Cup, where he was an assistant captain for the U.S. team.
He had planned to get in plenty of practice at Muirfield Village last week, but several weather delays limited his time on the range.
Love, of course, had surgery on his ailing neck last February. He made his 2013 PGA Tour season debut at the Players and made just 14 more starts, notching just one top 10 and finishing outside the top 100 on the money list for the first time in 28 years.
“I needed a break (after Wyndham) because I had pushed myself a little over the edge trying to get to 15 tournaments after the surgery,” Love said.
Aside from that little bit of rust, Love is feeling good – both with his health and his game.
“Everything else feels great – the best in a long, long time," Love said. "I’m starting to hit the ball where I want to hit it.”
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4. CAMILO A CARD HOLDER AGAIN: He's got his PGA Tour card back, and Camilo Villegas is responding with a strong start at CordeValle.
Villegas was tied for the lead when he finished his second-round 6-under 66, but is now in solo fifth at 8-under 134.
Villegas started on No. 10 Friday morning and got off to a fast start with birdies at Nos. 11-13. He birdied the par-3 16th, but bogeyed 17. He finished with birdies on Nos. 7 and 8.
Although he had conditional status on the PGA Tour in 2013 after failing to regain full status through Q-School, Villegas still played in 23 events. He made 16 cuts and had two top-10 finishes.
He regained his full PGA Tour card for the 2013-14 season after finishing in the top 125 in last season’s FedExCup standings.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: The first cut of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season fell at even par with 81 players making the cut. Among those failing to advance to the weekend: Billy Horschel, Marc Leishman, Freddie Jacobson, Gary Woodland, Fred Funk and Angel Cabrera. . . . Andres Gonzales tied the course record with a 9-under 62 Friday at CordeValle. He is 6 under overall entering the weekend. . . . Jason Kokrak's second-round 6-under 65 included four birdies and an eagle. But more importantly it included no bogeys. Kokrak, who is solo second at 10 under, has just one bogey in his first 36 holes.
Golfweek.com Asst. Editor Cassie Stein contributed to this report.