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Why watching brother Chase Monday qualify was ‘no fun’ for Brooks Koepka

While closing out major titles, Brooks Koepka can look unfazed and emotionless, but he wasn’t that way on the course Monday.

When he was a spectator, not a player.

Koepka watched with frayed nerves as his younger brother, Chase, advanced through a 5-for-2 playoff at the Monday qualifier for this week’s Travelers Championship to earn a spot in the PGA Tour field at TPC River Highlands.

“I was nervous,” Brooks Koepka said Tuesday during a pre-tournament news conference. “Dude, watching sucks. I’ve got to be honest. I feel bad for parents that had to watch us at all these tournaments that we’re playing now to junior golf. That’s no fun. I’m not a parent, but if I ever had a kid that’s playing a sport, I’m going to be nervous as hell. It’s not fun.”

There’s plenty to celebrate now, as Chase, 26, will play his third Tour event of the season, and the first that didn’t require a sponsor exemption. He made the cut in both Las Vegas (67th) and Korea (T-46) but failed to finish inside the top 40.

Travelers Championship: Full-field tee times | Full coverage

Having earned his European Tour card in 2018, Chase Koepka struggled that year and lost his status. He reached the final stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School last fall but only has conditional status; he missed the cut in the first event of the year.

That leaves him in somewhat of a competitive no-man’s-land, needing to play Monday qualifiers, rely on sponsor exemptions or stay sharp during off-weeks on the mini-tours. His brother took a road less traveled, too, working his way through Europe after college to become an elite player, but it’s been difficult to find playing opportunities in a crowded landscape.

Talking to his caddie, Ricky Elliott, on the course Monday, Brooks Koepka said: “If I had to go Monday (qualify), there’s no chance I make it into four of these tournaments a year. It’s just not in my nature.”

In fact, Koepka lamented the fact that these first two Tour events of the restart have been shootouts, with a winning score of at least 15 under. He believes that it’s more to his advantage when par is rewarded, thus his stellar record in the majors, and in particular the U.S. Open.

But Monday qualifiers are all about going low for 18 holes; Koepka’s 67 was only good enough for a playoff.

“I’m super pumped for him, probably more excited for him to play than myself just because the opportunity comes few and far between for him to be out here on the PGA Tour,” Koepka said. “So it’s awesome. I’m super excited, and hopefully he has a good week and makes the best of it.”