By Jordan Zuniga
Brooks Koepka rode a strong finish on the back nine of the U.S. Open to clinch his first major victory, tying Rory McIlroy’s U.S. Open record with a 72-hole score of 16-under par.
The 27-year-old from Palm Beach, Florida, played almost flawless golf Sunday, hitting 12 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens in regulation. The back nine for Koepka was his wheelhouse this past weekend, only boogying once in four rounds, hole 10 on Sunday. This put him in second behind Brian Harman.
On the 13th hole, Koepka sank a par putt to give him the outright lead after Harmen bogeyed on the 12th.
“I think that built some confidence,” Koepka said. “So I think that was kind of the changing point of the round for me.”
After 13, Koepka, was 13 strokes under with a 1-stroke lead over Harman. He went on to birdy holes 14, 15, and 16 to give him a 4-stroke lead that he never relinquished.
Before Koepka’s big three-hole run, there were five golfers within 4 strokes of the lead and plenty of holes left to play. Hideki Matsuyama finished third and placed the highest of anyone ranked in the top 20 as he tied for second. Matsuyama finished the last round 6 under par to make a run at the title.
For all of Koepka’s magnificence on the golf course this weekend, its tough to believe that golf isn’t even his favorite sport.
Koepka is also a skilled baseball and basketball player, he embodies the new style of golfers looking more like athletes. His bond with fellow golfer, and 2016 Open Champion Dustin Johnson has been a big part in his training regime.
“I really should have made that up and down on 18,” Koepka said. “I think it’s really cool [going 16-under]. It hasn’t sunk in, obviously, yet, and probably won’t for a few days.”
This weekend did not fare well for the top-10 golfers, six of them missed the first cut, and the top three did not make it to June 17.
This was the first time since the ranking system was implemented in 1986 that all of the top three golfers in the world failed to make a cut in a major tournament.
Scottie Schaffler of the University of Texas was the low amateur champion after this past weekend. This was Schaffler’s second U.S. Open; he competed last year but failed to make the cut. Schaffler gave a lot of credit to his sister, who caddied during his success in the Open.
Rickey Fowler had his chances to make a move at the top spot throughout the weekend; however, he simply was unable to put it all together at the right time. On hole 12, just 1 stroke behind the leader, Fowler bogeyed to put him 2 behind, then bogeyed again on the 15th just before Koepka made his move.