ERIN, Wis.—Brooks Koepka proved too big, too strong, and too tough for both the course and his competitors, firing a final round 67 to run away with the 2017 U.S. Open.
Koepka overpowered the lengthy Erin Hills track and separated himself from the field after birdieing holes 14, 15, and 16. After that thunder strike, it was a coronation for a player who is living up to high expectations placed on him since he turned professional. The biggest disappointment was the lack of drama over the closing holes as early in the day it looked like it would be a photo finish among numerous golfers.
From the start, Koepka imposed his will on the course birdieing the first two holes to take a lead he would never relinquish. His drove long and straight and his approach shots, when tracked by the Fox shot tracker, seemed to align with the digital pin position. His accuracy and distance was a sight to behold.
A three-time All American at Florida State, Koepka took the unusual route of starting his career on the European tour. After a couple of victories in Europe, he won his first title on the PGA tour with a win at the 2015 Waste Management Open. Koepka flew under the radar coming into the championship, with most prognosticators picking the other American big hitter in Dustin Johnson. Koepka put together four solid rounds of 67, 70, 68, and 67 to tie the lowest score ever in the U.S. Open at 16-under par.
Pre-tournament favorite Rickie Fowler again failed to score when he needed it most. Reminiscent of the 2014 PGA and 2017 Masters, Fowler just never got his round going and bogeys on 12 and 15 put him out of contention. When Rickie wins one, there will be a big celebration because so many people are rooting for him.
Brian Harman hung in there for 13 holes before being run over by the Koepka freight train. Harmon had relied on precision ball striking and pinpoint putting, but that abandoned him on the back nine and he finished at an even par 72.
Koepka was subdued when he sank the winning putt, giving only half-hearted fist bump. He seemed a little overwhelmed when being carted to the scoring area with girlfriend Jena Sims. In his champion’s interview with Curtis Strange, he opened up and talked about his mindset coming into Sunday and the most important golf round of his life.
““I felt like I was playing really good,” he noted. “Obviously, the wind picked up and I felt like that played right into my hands—good ball-striker, good putter. And I felt confident all week. So, to feel as confident as I did on a Sunday of a major and coming down the stretch was pretty neat.”
Koepka will not be a one-hit wonder when it comes to winning big golf tournaments. In fact, this win could kickstart an excellent career. Brooks Koepka hits the ball too far and too straight to become an also-ran on the PGA Tour. Look for big things to come from this big man.