Last updated on April 2nd, 2023 at 11:18 AM
Brooks Koepka has 16 professional wins in eight different countries, but he’s never won an elite event in his home state of Florida.
That could change Sunday at LIV Golf Orlando.
Koepka, the Smash GC captain, shot his second consecutive 6-under 65 to grab the 36-hole individual lead at 12 under at Orange County National.
He’ll take a three-shot lead over Torque GC’s Sebastián Muñoz, the first-round leader who followed his record-tying 62 with an even-par 71. Three players – Laurie Canter (Cleeks GC), Mito Pereira (Torque GC) and Patrick Reed (4Aces GC) – are at 8 under.
Fueled by Koepka, Smash leads the team competition at 26 under, two shots ahead of Torque, with Cleeks another three shots back at 21 under.
Koepka, who grew up in the West Palm Beach area, played collegiately at Florida State, and currently lives in South Florida, wasn’t sure of the last time he won a golf tournament in the state. “Probably a minor league golf event I remember playing in like 2012, 2013,” he said.
His family is attending LIV Golf Orlando this week, cheering for both Brooks and his younger brother Chase, who also plays for Smash. It could be a big celebration if Brooks and his team can claim both trophies on Sunday.
“They’ve got to be loving it, right?” Koepka said of his family. “I’ll speak for me, it’s pretty cool to have my brother, playing alongside him, being able to go do practice rounds, playing an event with him, seeing all the behind-the-scenes stuff that you guys might not see all the time and be able to spend more time with him, more QT. I think that’s been a big thing. It’s been pretty dope.”
Koepka will also be seeking his second LIV Golf individual title, having won last year in a playoff against then-teammate Peter Uihlein in the LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah. Including the 2022 Invitational Series, the first nine regular-season events in LIV Golf’s young history have been won by nine different players, so Koepka is in a position to be the first individual to celebrate a second time atop the podium.
“It’s kind of tough to have multiple wins in nine events,” Koepka said. “If you do, you’re doing something right.”
Muñoz was one of 18 players in the 48-player field who did not break par Saturday. He realizes how difficult it is to back up a low round with another one, especially in the windy conditions offered by the Crooked Cat course. Despite the even-par score, he remains in contention in just his third LIV Golf start.
“I felt like my ball-striking was the same as yesterday,” Muñoz said. “I might have hit a few less fairways. Putts didn’t go in, and that’s a nine-shot difference. Pretty crazy.”
Canter is making his third start as a reserve player filling in for Cleeks GC Captain Martin Kaymer, who is close to returning from offseason wrist surgery.
“I kind of look at it like if this is the last LIV event I ever play, then it’s been awesome,” Canter said. “… I haven’t tried to put too much pressure on myself in terms of got to take the opportunity because golf doesn’t really work like that. Well, not for me anyway.”
TEAM COUNTING SCORES
Here are the standings and counting scores for Saturday’s second round of the team competition at LIV Golf Orlando.
The three best scores from each team count in every round for their total team score. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title.
- SMASH GC (-26): Brooks Koepka 65, Matthew Wolff 68, Jason Kokrak 68 (Rd. 2 score: -12)
- TORQUE GC (-24): Mito Pereira 66, Joaquin Niemann 68, David Puig 68 (Rd. 2 score: -11)
- CLEEKS GC (-21): Laurie Canter 66, Graeme McDowell 67, Bernd Wiesberger 69 (Rd. 2 score: -11)
- 4ACES GC (-19): Patrick Reed 67, Peter Uihlein 67, Dustin Johnson 70 (Rd. 2 score: -9)
- STINGER GC (-17): Charl Schwartzel 65, Branden Grace 70, Louis Oosthuizen 70 (Rd. 2 score: -8)
- IRON HEADS GC (-16): Kevin Na 66, Scott Vincent 67, Danny Lee 70 (Rd. 2 score: -10)
- MAJESTICKS GC (-15): Sam Horsfield 66, Lee Westwood 71, Henrik Stenson 72 (Rd. 2 score: -4)
T8. HYFLYERS GC (-11): Cameron Tringale 66, James Piot 66, Brendan Steele 72 (Rd. 2 score: -9)
T8. CRUSHERS GC (-11): Paul Casey 69, Bryson DeChambeau 69, Andy Ogletree 70 (Rd. 2 score: -5)
T8. RANGEGOATS GC (-11): Talor Gooch 69, Thomas Pieters 71, Bubba Watson 72 (Rd. 2 score: -1)
- FIREBALLS GC (-9): Abraham Ancer 66, Carlos Ortiz 69, Eugenio Chacarra 71 (Rd. 2 score: -7)
- RIPPER GC (-8): Cameron Smith 69, Jediah Morgan 70, Marc Leishman 72 (Rd. 2 score: -3)