Brooks Koepka fired a final-round, seven-under 65 to overcome a two-shot deficit and secure his maiden victory on the European Tour at the Turkish Airlines Open. The 24-year-old American posted an tournament total 17-under to edge out Ian Poulter by a shot.
“I feel like I’ve been playing really well and I’ve been knocking on the door, and these last maybe two, three months, I’ve been very close over here and in the States,” Koepka said, via the AP. “I also felt like I should have won a couple. But I’ve been knocking on the door and I’ve learned something every time, and used that today. I was very relaxed, very calm today. It showed, I guess.”
Poulter had a chance to force a playoff, but he missed a five-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole. The Englishman claimed his best finish in 2014, but he couldn’t help but wonder what could have been.
“Disappointing is the outcome but hats off to a great round today from Brooks as he’s played some superb golf there,” said Poulter. “It’s frustrating, is what it is. There’s no other word for it. Yes, I’m going to be angry. I’ll be angry for a good few days. But that’s fine. I’ll keep myself in my own little room and have a little chat with myself and come out and win next week.”
The victory most likely means Koepka will move into the top 40 in the Official World Golf Rankings. He also has an invite to the Masters locked up already.
“I’ve kind of had Augusta on the schedule since playing in the U.S. Open this year,” he said. “So that invitation is going to be nice and I was actually told in the locker room, I didn’t even know at the time. My dad somehow knew it, which I have no clue. He said something to me and I was like, okay, right, funny.
“But yes, definitely looking forward to that. That will be great as growing up, watching that tournament, has always been special.”
As a young, talented American, Koepka has chosen the road less taken in his route to the top 50 in the OWGR. With the exception of a sponsor’s exemption here and there on the PGA Tour, Koepka started his pro career playing on the Challenge Tour, the European Tour’s developmental tour, equivalent of the Web.com Tour in the U.S. Over the last two years, Koepka won four times on that tour, including three times last season, which gained him instant promotion to the European Tour.
“To look where I was a year and a half ago on The Challenge Tour, to now be a winner on The European Tour is incredible,” said Koepka.
(However, he did make 16 starts on the PGA Tour last season and carded two top-10 finishes, including a T4 finish at the U.S. Open. Koepka collected over $1 million to earn enough FedExCup points to claim his PGA Tour card for the 2014-15 season. So far in two starts in the U.S. this year, he’s earned two top 10 finishes, with a T8 at the Frys.com Open and T4 at the Shriners.)
Koepka surges from 43rd to 6th in the Race to Dubai standings and becomes one of the favorites to be named the European Tour’s Rookie of the Year.
Koepka’s victory also ensured that Rory McIlroy, who hasn’t played the last several events, secured the 2014 Race to Dubai title, his second in the last three years.
McIlroy, who lives in the Jupiter area along with Koepka, was among the first to congratulate the young American.
Massive congrats to my good buddy @BKoepka on the win in Turkey! Very well deserved, enjoy the celebrations!
— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) November 16, 2014
McIlroy returns to competition for next week’s European Tour season-ending DP World Tour Championship. However, the tournament within the tournament — the Race to Dubai — is now meaningless since McIlroy is too far ahead of his closest competitors for anyone to catch him.