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How US golfer’s journey can inspire local players

Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka of the United States celebrates winning on the 18th green during the final round of the US PGA Championship at Bethpage Black Golf Course on May 19, 2019 in Farmingdale, United States. PHOTO | AFP 

In 2013, the Kenya Open Golf Championship was played at the Karen Country Club, and Spain’s Jordi Garcia Pinto was the winner with a score of 12-under par, banking Sh3.5 million. In that same year, largely unnoticed, an American player finished T5, 7-under par at Karen, taking home Sh990,000. Two other players, Lucas Bjerregaard, Denmark and Tyrell Hatton, England, finished T22, winning Sh192,000 each.

Last week, Koepka was victorious far away from Karen, at the PGA Championship, played on the tough Black Course at Bethpage State Park in New York. With this victory, Koepka took home $2 million (Sh202 million) from a total prize kitty of $11 million (Sh1.14 billion)! Bjerregaard finished T16 at Bethpage whilst Hatton finished T48 – they banked about Sh17 million and Sh3 million respectively.

Since those early days at the Karen Country Club, Koepka has now chalked four major victories, a most commendable achievement considering the fact that he has only played in 22 majors since 2012. Phil Michelson, who has been around much longer than Koepka has only won five majors, while Rory McIlroy has four to his name.

In 2017, at the US Open, Koepka claimed his first major, he finished T6 at The Open Championship and T13 at the PGA Championship that same year. In 2018 he successfully defended his US Open victory and won the PGA Championship. And in 2019 he finished second to Tiger Woods at the Masters and defended his PGA Championship victory a few weeks later. In his last eight major starts, Koepka has won four times!

That is a 50 percent win rate – almost too good to be true!

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Koepka is now the number one golfer in the world at the age of 29 years.

What is my point? Let me rewind a bit. In 2013, just six years ago, this guy flew to Kenya, played at the Kenya Open held at Karen and has since gone on to win some of the biggest tournaments in the world.

The path Koepka has followed, through the European Challenge Tour, has been used before by the likes of Vijay Singh, Ian Woosnam and others. This path is and has been available to Kenyan golf professionals for the last 50 years.

Koepka has banked about $26.5 million in his career to date – a whopping Sh2.68 billion since he turned Pro in 2012 – do the math, about Sh28 million per month! Sh1 million per day!

How many more PGA Tour events and Majors can Koepka win? Before the PGA Championship, Koepka said he saw no reason not to win at least 10 majors. And who can argue with him?

"I think sometimes the majors are the easiest ones to win," said Koepka. "Half the people shoot themselves out of it, and mentally I know I can beat most of them, and then from there it's those guys left, who's going to play good and who can win. I don't see any reason I can't get to double digits." (www.golfdigest.com).

In June, Koepka will tee it up at the US Open, where he will be, you guessed it, defending champion! And in July he will cross the pond to play at The Open Championship – I believe he will be firm favourite to win both!

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