Koepka making most out of return home to America

Published on NewsOK Modified: October 11, 2013 at 8:47 pm •  Published: October 11, 2013
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SAN MARTIN, Calif. (AP) — After a year spent traveling the world, Brooks Koepka suddenly is in a position to play a lot more golf at home.

In his first regular PGA Tour event, Koepka surged to the top of the leaderboard Friday in the Frys.com Open with a 7-under 64, giving him a one-shot lead over Jason Kokrak going into the weekend at CordeValle.

Kokrak, a runner-up at this event last year, hit 6-iron to the par-5 ninth to a foot for eagle and a 65.

Koepka, a 23-year-old Floridian, received a sponsor's exemption into the PGA Tour season opener between stops in Scotland and Shanghai. He had no status at the start of the year after failing to advance beyond the second stage of Q-school last year. Instead of trying to qualify for Web.com Tour events, Koepka packed his bags and passport for a 15-country journey that has served him well.

He won three times on the Challenge Tour to earn his European Tour card. He played the Dunhill Links in Scotland two weeks ago and in two weeks heads to the BMW Masters in Shanghai.

If he were to win the Frys.com Open, he would have a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.

"There's no pressure. Just enjoying it right now," Koepka said. "Looking forward to the weekend. I don't see any pressure. Yeah, it would be big. Obviously, be nice to win and get status over here. But you play good, everything kind of takes care of itself."

It has so far — not just the last two days, but all year.

Koepka, who make eight birdies and an eagle, was at 11-under 131.

With no wind in the afternoon, the cut was at even-par 142. Because more than 78 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut Saturday for the top 70 and ties.

Robert Garrigus (63) and Jim Herman (66) were two shots behind, while Camilo Villegas shot 66 and was another shot behind at 8-under 134. Kevin Tway, son of former PGA champion Bob Tway, had a 65 and was among those at 135. Lurking five shots behind were the Japanese duo of Hideki Matsuyama (66) and Ryo Ishikawa (67).

Koepka made most of his birdies with a wedge in his hand, and picked up two more birdies on the par 5s by missing eagle attempts from about 12 feet.

He was at the same course at Q-school where Jordan Spieth failed to advance. Spieth started out on the Web.com Tour, did well enough in his PGA Tour starts to get some money and momentum, and wound up with a win, a PGA Tour card, a trip to the Tour Championship and a spot on the Presidents Cup team.