Watch Brooks Koepka on the range and it's easy to see why insiders have been predicting big things for the 24-year-old since he got out of Florida State in 2012.
Koepka validated the prognostication Sunday, shooting a final-round 66 to take the Waste Management Phoenix Open by a stroke. The two key shots both came about thanks to Koepka's hyperdrive clubhead speed. At the par-5 15th, he hit driver, 6-iron to 50 feet and converted the eagle putt to take the lead. Then, on the intimidating 18th hole, he nuked his tee shot 331 yards dead center, airmailing the water and bunkers that torment those with regular speed.
The three-time All-American took a slightly circuitous route to the PGA Tour, playing on the European Challenge and regular Tours the last two seasons before breaking through at the Turkish Airlines Open in November. Now, he's in the top 20 and looks to be staying for awhile.
"Brooks isn't a giant guy, but he produces huge power--170 miles per hour of ball speed," says top South Carolina teacher Brad Redding, who is based at the International Club in Myrtle Beach. "Amateurs try to drive their legs toward the target, which makes it hard to control the angle the club swings on. Brooks uses his legs to push into the ground, which stabilizes his body and gives him the chance to rotate his body really fast."
That stability lets Koepka go at the ball virtually as hard as he likes and not worry about losing control. "You can add some of that speed to your swing, too," says Redding. "Get into good posture by bending from your hips, not the waist. Feel the inside muscles of your legs tighten to help push into the ground. When you coil in the backswing, use all the muscle groups--back, chest, shoulders and lower body--to explode the turning of your hips in the downswing."