Brooks Koepka used to be the "other guy" in the house he shares with Peter Uihlein in South Florida.Uihlein—2010 U.S. Amateur champion and European Tour winner—was an all-everything amateur before winning rookie of the year on the European Tour in 2013.Koepka started last year one rung below Uihlein in Europe, but it didn't take him long to move up. Koepka won three Challenge Tour events in a two-month span, earning an automatic promotion to the European Tour.Now the long-hitting Koepka is poised to double the number of tour cards in his pocket. Bolstered by a tie for third at the Frys.com Open in October, he played well enough in nine PGA Tour starts to receive conditional status and unlimited sponsor's exemptions for the rest of 2014."He's as good a young player as I've seen," says Claude Harmon III, who started working with Koepka early last year. "Not many players have the kind of speed Brooks has, and he has the perfect attitude. When he plays bad, he walks off the course and says, 'Let's fix this right now.' When it's fixed, he says, 'I'm gonna shoot low tomorrow.' "
Koepka isn't a member of the Dustin Johnson-Gary Woodland division, but the middleweight generates some of the fastest clubhead speeds on tour. "The harder I swing, the straighter it goes," says Koepka, who flies his driver 293 yards on average. "It's nice to sometimes carry one 320, and hit it by everybody."
MADE TO FADE
Harmon and Koepka have worked on a power fade. "When he's on, he aims just left of target, and the ball never moves right of it," Harmon says. "His clubface is closed at the top, but we're not changing it. My grandfather [Claude Harmon, who won the 1948 Masters] played great from that position."
THE BIG WINDUP
"Brooks really turns his upper body on top of his lower body," Harmon says. "He loads and sits into his right hip at the top of the backswing. That's where his power comes from." Koepka says he's trying to feel a shorter, tighter backswing. When he overswings, he says, he hangs back and tends to lose the ball to the right.
STAYING IN FRONT
Harmon says with Koepka's speed, the last thing they want is the club dropping behind him on the downswing, requiring a quick recovery. "We want the club in front of him, so he can just turn hard and release toward the target. The first time we worked on this, he hit four balls and said, 'I can't believe it's that easy.' "
Koepka blossomed in Europe last season when he and Harmon simplified his approach off the tee and started focusing on hitting fades. "He can draw it when he needs to, but he mostly moves the ball left to right," Harmon says. "He has a great idea of what he's doing right now, and he doesn't try to be a player he's not."
READY TO RIP IT
When Koepka turns through to a full release and balanced finish, he knows he's swinging well—and he's not afraid to take risks. "If a hole is tight, I swing harder at it," he says. "A lot of times, players get nervous about a tight landing area and try to guide the shot out there. I do the opposite. I just let it go."