U.S. Open fans might be asking 'Who is Sepp Straka?'

Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports

U.S. Open fans might be asking 'Who is Sepp Straka?'

USGA

U.S. Open fans might be asking 'Who is Sepp Straka?'

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif.  – U.S. Open leaderboards, particularly early in the week, typically offer up a name that’s new to most golf fans. On Thursday at Pebble Beach, more than a few viewers probably wondered “Who is Sepp Straka?”

For starters, he’s a 26-year-old rookie on the PGA Tour. Twin brother to Sam. Austrian-born but more Georgian (as in Valdosta) than European. He’s ranked 359th in the world but is currently T-5 at Pebble Beach after an opening 3-under 68. Two shots behind a trio of players who lead the field at 5 under – Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, and Louis Oosthuizen.

As U.S. Open debuts go, it was picture-perfect.

“Being first off is always nice, especially on Poa greens,” said Straka, who teed off at 6:45 a.m. local time. “You know you’re just going to get absolutely perfect greens.”

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The Straka brothers played college golf together at Georgia, with Sepp staying on for a fifth season. Sam, who was born two minutes before Sepp, went into commercial real estate for three years after graduation but recently decided to give golf another go. He’s currently playing on mini tours in the southeast and plans to try for Web.com Q-School later this year.

They’ve spent their entire lives pushing one another. Both share a career-low round of 62.

“When we were growing up, any time I played golf, good or bad, I always asked what Sam shot,” said Sepp. “That’s the one guy you want to beat in the field.”

Thursday morning was a special, yet stressful, walk outside the ropes for Sam and the rest of the family.

“I’m more nervous watching him than playing my own golf,” said Sam, “because I have no control.”

Sepp Straka plays a shot from a bunker during the third round of the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open. Photo: Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports

Sepp’s best finish on the PGA Tour so far this season is a share of 13th at the Farmers Open. He missed the cut in his next start, the AT&T at Pebble, but took a share of 16th at the Puerto Rico Open.

The 6-foot-3 Sepp qualified for his first major by taking co-medalist honors at sectional qualifying at RattleSnake Point Golf Club in Milton, Ontario.

His experience at Pebble dates back to college golf when he twice played here at the Carmel Cup. He remembers waking up early with a couple of teammates on that first trip to quickly get down to the 18th and soak it in.

Sepp Straka, right, and his twin brother Sam on Thursday at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Photo: Beth Ann Nichols/Golfweek

Sepp earned his PGA Tour card via the Web.com tour, winning the KC Golf Classic and finishing T-3 in the season-ending event to seal his status.

Brother Sam hopes to follow his best friend’s lead.

“That’s why he is where he is and where I can be,” said Sam of their competitive drive. “Because we always had each other and were feeding off each other, learning from each other. It’s such a good dynamic.”

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