Brooks Koepka big on Aaron Wise, who opens with 66 at U.S. Open

Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Brooks Koepka big on Aaron Wise, who opens with 66 at U.S. Open

USGA

Brooks Koepka big on Aaron Wise, who opens with 66 at U.S. Open

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Nothing about Aaron Wise’s most recent results suggested he’d hold a share of the lead for a few hours at the U.S. Open. But two-time U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka certainly saw something.

The World No. 1 has taken Wise under his wing of late. Before heading out to a Tuesday practice round with Wise at Pebble Beach, Koepka, completely unprompted, heaped high praise on the 2016 NCAA champ.

“Watching Aaron hit the ball, it’s super impressive,” said Koepka. “He’s going to be super talented when he figures it out and understands his game. I think he’s going to be a hell of a player.”

Wise, who won on the PGA Tour in his 26th career start at the age of 21, missed the cut in his previous two U.S. Open starts but carded an opening 5-under 66 at Pebble Beach to share the lead with Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele and Louis Oosthuizen for a while before Justin Rose birdied the 18th to take the outright solo lead.

Coming into this week, the former Oregon star missed the cut in his last two PGA Tour starts. He has one top-10 finish on the season and most notably finished 17th in his Masters debut.

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“It was solid, it was nice to get my putter going,” said Wise of Thursday’s round. “That’s kind of what’s been missing this whole year for me in a way. And today I was able to putt well. These are greens I’m kind of accustomed to being from Southern California. And felt like the ball-striking part’s always been there. It was nice to see some putts drop and it added up to a great score.”

Aaron Wise plays his second shot on the ninth hole during the first round of the 2019 U.S. Open. Photo: Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Wise said he and Koepka have become good friends of late. Beyond the course strategy he takes away from those practice rounds, Wise is most impressed with the calmness the four-time major winner exudes.

“Not only just playing in those practice rounds,” said Wise, “but I’ve seen him multiple times through the events like today, when I was on 17 tee he was on (No.) 4 tee. And just saying, hey. And he’s literally the calmest person in the world.”

Koepka remembers being in Wise’s shoes not long ago, wanting to pick the brain of experienced champions. He enjoys this role.

“You’ve got to give back because the older guys gave back to us,” said Koepka. “It’s the right thing to do. I enjoy it because I get to pick his brain, too. It’s fun for me hearing about how these younger guys, they come out and they can just attack everything. They see driver everywhere. It’s a fun style of golf.”

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