Brooks Koepka was always in the conversation during his college and amateur days. He was tall, strong and long. He won his share of collegiate and amateur events, but he never figured into World Amateur or Walker Cup team considerations. He headed for Europe when he turned professional in 2012, and he won events on both the Challenge and European tours.

In 2014, Koepka returned to the PGA Tour and placed fourth at the U.S. Open, securing his tour card. Fast forward past his first tour win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 2015 and his first Ryder Cup appearance in 2016, and Brooks Koepka is now a major champion, the 2017 U.S. Open winner.

What Koepka Did

Koepka made a herculean length of putts during his final round at Erin Hills. He made one mistake, a three-whack on the 10th green for bogey. When other golfers began to feel the pressure of the lead, Koepka responded with a trilogy of birdies on Nos. 14-16 to assume a four-stroke lead.

Related: Photos of the clubs Koepka used to win

On Sunday, Koepka played nearly flawless golf from tee to green. Twelve of 14 times, he played from the fairway on par-4 and par-5 holes. Seventeen of 18 times, he putted for birdie from the frog hair. Koepka opened and closed the tournament with 67s, he was never over par, and he walked with the aplomb of a lad out for a stroll.

How Koepka Did It

He surrounded himself with success. It’s no longer a secret that Koepka and Dustin Johnson, the 2016 U.S. Open winner, are workout buddies. They compete in the fitness room and on the golf course. Koepka, Florida-born, bred and educated, lives in the same area as Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and many other top young professionals.

Koepka drew on his experience at the 2011 U.S. Amateur, also played at Erin Hills. Although he did not make match play that year, he learned enough about the course to carry him on into 2017. On Sunday, at the 13th hole, Koepka holed a 9-foot putt for par to avoid an unsettling bogey. Buoyed by that stroke, he went on his birdie tear.

What The Others Didn’t

Maintain their composure, draw on their experience, play to their spots… however you wish to qualify it. It’s too much to ask a golfer to follow up a record round with something good enough to win. Justin Thomas made three bogeys in his first five holes, and his par at No. 1 had to feel like another. His only birdie of the day came at the 10th hole, and by the end of the day Thomas tumbled to a tie for ninth place.

Brian Harman could not have done much more in his quest to claim the U.S. Open title. He went out in 1-under and held the lead until consecutive bogeys at Nos. 12 and 13 coincided with Koepka’s surge. Harman was not daunted, and he responded with birdies of his own at Nos. 14 and 16. His last gasp, a birdie run at No. 17, lipped out. Harman’s tie for second with Hideki Matsuyama was confirmed with a two-putt bogey at the last.

As for Matsuyama, he started too far back. His opening 74 put him way back, but his 65 on Friday reduced the margin. He was unable to maintain the momentum, and scratched out a 71 on Saturday. Sunday saw him post the low round of the day, a 66, built on eight birdies and two bogeys. Matsuyama needed to be perfect, but he fell just shy. Bogeys at the par-3 sixth and the par-4 fifteenth kept him for a Justin Thomas-type round and from applying supreme pressure to Koepka and Harman.

Who Leaves Gutted

More than anyone, Rickie Fowler. This was the one he was supposed to win. He was in a good pairing with Si Woo Kim, the 2017 Players Championship winner. No great rivals with major title to their names were on the first page of the leaderboard. Fowler began his day with birdie, but he played the rest of the outward half in even par. Pressing, he made bogey at Nos. 12 and 15, and a closing birdie brought him back to a fifth-place tie. The more opportunities slip away, the more questions he will have about his ability to close the door.

Patrick Reed seemed to have found the magic garb: his Ryder Cup pants from 2016. They compelled him to a wonderful 65 on Saturday, 10 shots better than Friday. The knock on Reed is his Poulter-esque ability to represent his side in international play, but not perform as an individual. Reed had three bogeys and one birdie on the day, and like Fowler, left Erin Hills with questions.

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23 COMMENTS

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    • Well, 3 out of 4 majors are in the USA. Duh. So unless that changes in the entire planet of golf, where majors are spread out throughout the globe, to say, one in Europe, one in the US, one in Australia and one in Japan or something – then they would have to also create one for Africa or the Middle East – and that will NEVER happen – as the US nor GB would ever let the glory of their games be taken away from them.

    • Fleetwood deserved some type of mention, but he was never in the lead past Saturday, and I didn’t want to write about how wretched his third and 4th shots were on 18 in round 3. He is a professional and neither of those shots should have come off the way they did. He was certainly lurking on Sunday, but did not surge.

    • Snead was a bomber, Hogan was a bomber, Nicklaus was a bomber, Eldrick was a bomber all in their day, so Watchu talking aboot? Nothing’s changed. It’s the same game. Remember that Jack won the Long Drive contest at Oakmont with a 341 drive in 1963 with persimmon driver, steel stiff shaft and a rubber ball!!!!
      And the USGA stretched this course at Erin Hills. Blame it on the benign weather, if you want. Don’t discount the bombers – they still have to be able to putt. And Brooks made some great ones.

  1. More than once a FOX commentator (Shane O Donoghue)noted how Sergio Garcia could join those players who had won both the Masters and the US Open in the same year.

    Arnold Palmer-1960
    Jack Nicklaus- 1972
    Jordan Spieth- 2015

    He must have been instructed about mentioning “you know who” in 2002……

  2. Great to see a real hard working golfer win…..had to watch the last 3 holes of the open today without sound as my dad said, dear I cannot take another minute of those guys in the broadcast booth…one of the best opens in years with worst broadcast time ever.

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