Phoenix winner Koepka credits European experience

Sun Feb 1, 2015 10:47pm EST
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(Reuters) - Brooks Koepka, who won his maiden PGA Tour title on Sunday in Phoenix, said failing to earn a PGA Tour card in 2012 and going to play in Europe instead turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The long-hitting Koepka, a native Floridian, won four times on the second tier European Challenge Tour and last November broke through for his first European Tour victory at the Turkish Airlines Open.

"Going over to Europe, it toughened me," he said after a final-round five-under 66 at TPC Scottsdale lifted him to a one-shot victory over Masters champion Bubba Watson, 22-year-old Japanese Hideki Matsuyama and American Ryan Palmer.

"It was a blessing in disguise. At the time I was extremely disappointed, as I'm sure Jordan Spieth was, too. Because I think we were at the same spot, finished, I think, two out of it," he said about Qualifying School.

"But that just toughens you up, your drive. It makes you want to get out here that much more."

Koepka, 24, said competing in Europe was an invaluable education for a golfer.

"I have just learned a lot. Whether it be success or failure, I have learned a lot," he said. "I think I won maybe two, three times in college."

Winning has become more familiar as he has matured.

"I have won the Challenge Tour, won in Europe and one here now. It's been special. But my drive, I think, is what it is.   Continued...

Feb 1, 2015; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Brooks Koepka reacts after missing his putt on the 18th hole during the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports