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Koepka dominates on Sunday, wins U.S. Open

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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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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. mlecuni

    Jun 19, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    By the way, another top 5 in a major for hideki, he must have worked harder during SB2K17.

  2. Michael

    Jun 19, 2017 at 6:47 am

    No mention on European players despite a good showing. Typical YouSA bias from this woeful website.

    • ooffa

      Jun 19, 2017 at 10:43 am

      USA, USA, USA,

    • H

      Jun 19, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      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.

      • mlecuni

        Jun 19, 2017 at 3:16 pm

        The editorial line of this website is far from open minded about the planet golf no matter how many majors are in the rest of the world.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Jun 19, 2017 at 9:28 pm

      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.

      • Old Putter

        Jun 20, 2017 at 7:32 pm

        You wanna mention Fleetwood….
        Mention how far right he hit it all day

  3. 972randell

    Jun 18, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    Seems kopeks won his second tour event, the Greater Milwaukee Open.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Jun 19, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      HAAAAAAH
      No, really, it was a US Open, with all the trimmings.

      • Ian

        Jun 21, 2017 at 6:38 am

        and by “trimmings” you mean the USGA were out on the course doing a little trimming here and a little trimming there.

  4. Frankie

    Jun 18, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    It’s all about the long ball now, with the past two US Open’s being won by guys with 180+ MPH ball speed, we’ll see another long baller win next year

    • SH

      Jun 19, 2017 at 3:29 am

      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.

      • Ronald Montesano

        Jun 19, 2017 at 9:30 pm

        Well put, SH.

        Harman played great golf. Deserved a shot at a win and he got it. Koepka beat him with his putting, not his ball speed. No one makes those three putts on 14-16, NO ONE!

  5. Judge Smells

    Jun 18, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    zzzzzzz well done Brooks

  6. rex235

    Jun 18, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    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……

  7. Caroline

    Jun 18, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    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.

    • TCJ

      Jun 20, 2017 at 11:11 am

      FOX is terrible. The online streaming commentary was wretched. Joe Buck? C’mon…

    • ski_co

      Jun 30, 2017 at 8:47 am

      I was sick of the plane flying around all day. Should be some way to prevent one guy flying in circles and disrupting everyone’s day.

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Tour News

5 things we learned on Sunday of the 2018 U.S. Open

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Opportunity knocked for so many golfers, yet it was the 2017 champion who seized the moment when it was his. Brooks Koepka fired his second sub-par round of the week on Sunday to separate from playing partner Dustin Johnson, and enter the pantheon of multiple major champions. He became the 7th player to defend his title, joining old-school legends like Willie Anderson and John McDermott, mid-century icons like Ralph Guldahl and Ben Hogan, and the last man to accomplish the feat, Curtis Strange. With that introduction, let’s move to the main event, the 5 things we learned on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.

5) The USGA gave golf a chance

True to its word, the USGA pulled out all the stops in the wee hours of Sunday morn. The course set-up team ensured that enough water was distributed to putting surfaces, that worthy shots would not be punished. Hole locations were assessed and confirmed, also ensuring that multiple opportunities for success were available. As a result, 15 golfers turned in scores under par of 70, highlighted by Tommy Fleetwood’s 7-under stunner. Although many fans, writers and players were quick to assault the organizers for losing control of the course, the USGA reminded us that it always had control of the conditions at Shinny, and that its only mistake was to soar too close to the sun.

4) Captain America ran out of gas

If Patrick Reed had been able to sign his card on the 9th tee, when he stood 5-under on the day and 1-over for the tournament, he would be in a playoff with the eventual champion as I type. Unfortunate for this year’s Masters champion was that 10 holes remained. Reed promptly bogeyed the 9th, added 3 more bogeys on the inward half, and summoned just one birdie toward the end. His fourth-place finish was his best in a U.S. Open, but knowing that victory was in the cards will sting for a while.

3) DJ and Finau gave it a run

Where to begin? How about this: DJ had four bogeys on Sunday. He totaled that many on Thursday-Friday combined. He had birdies, too, but couldn’t find the game that possessed him over the opening 36 holes. Oddly enough, this type of experience won’t be a setback for the 2016 champion. After all, he came back from a career-killer in 2015, when he 3-whacked his way out of a playoff with Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay. As for Milton Pouhau Finau, aka Tony, the Utah native had never before been in the final group on any day of a major professional championship. He acquitted himself well, standing even on the day and 3-over for T2 at the 18th tee. Knowing that he needed eagle for a playoff might have taken the final winds from his sails, and he limped home with double bogey and solo third. Looking ahead to the final August playing of the PGA Championship, Bellerive near St. Louis might just be his type of course.

2) Tom Terrific nearly made his own U.S. Open history

I’ll write this cautiously, as I’m certain I would have intimated in the 1980s and 90s that Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood would have been major champions by now. Tommy Fleetwood ought to win one of these things soon. His record-tying 63 was a short putt away from a record-breaking 62. Eight birdies against a single bogey was the stuff of legend, and if only he had trusted that final putt a bit higher on the break … that’s not fair. Fleetwood right now is the fellow to watch at Carnoustie next month. Bet a few quid or bob or whatever on the Southport native, as he should contend for the title.

1) Brooks cooks up a winning broth

It’s easy to look back and see all the great shots that the defending champion hit over the four days of the 2018 U.S. Open, shots that would win him his second consecutive trophy. Remember that 60-feet bomb to save par on Saturday? Shades of Costantino Rocca. How about the approach shots to within mere feet that earned him 5 birdies on Sunday, including a competition-killer on 16? Koepka was the guy we thought Dustin Johnson would be. Perhaps it was the time off for wrist rehabilitation early this season that gave him the burning desire to win. Out for nearly 4 months, Koepka had plenty of time to ponder what he achieved last June in Wisconsin, and what might lay ahead for him. The begged question is, does the most recent, two-time major winner have the game to acquire more of the game’s cherished trophies?

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70; 7,440 yards) in Southhampton, New York. The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since 2004 when Retief Goosen won (he failed to qualify for the 2018 event).

Related

Phil Mickelson, who has two top-5 finishes at Shinnecock Hills, will seek to fill out his career Grand Slam with a win this week. Also, it’s Tiger Woods’ 10-year anniversary of winning the legendary 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines — that was his most recent major championship victory.

Also in the field are headliners Dustin Johnson (now ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Justin Rose (No. 3), Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5).

Brooks Koepka (No. 9) is the defending champion; he won last year by four shots for his first and only major so far in his career.

Check out our photos from Shinnecock Hills below!

Wednesday’s Galleries

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Spotted at Shinnecock: #RVLife, superb staff bags, stellar stampings

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We’re on the famed grounds of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club for the second major of the year. With the U.S. Open returned to such a visually and historically rich venue, it may be a bit tough to focus on equipment.

Nevertheless, we spotted some cool stuff, Tuesday, as the players move ever closer to the second major of th eyear.

Let’s get to the photos.

#RVLife propronent, Jason Day’s putter cover is incredible.

Michael Greller displays an essential caddie skill…

Face of Tiger’s wedge. Do these look like standard TaylorMade MG grooves to you?

Greatest side panel on a bag ever?

Who isn’t happy to see “Woods” on USGA tournament signage?

Shintaro Ban’s unique dot stamping is, well, money.

A look at the Bridgestone U.S. Open staff bag and headcovers.

Kenny Perry: Still gaming R7 irons.

Scott Gregory with some solid wedge stamping.

What is this lead taped and war torn beauty?

All our photos from Tuesday

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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