Without the wind as a factor, scores stayed low over the first three rounds of the U.S. Open at Erin Hills. But when the wind picked up on Sunday in the final round, scores rose with it.
One man who managed to keep his score down was Brooks Koepka, and it won him the U.S. Open. Koepka won the first major of his career with a 5-under 67 on Sunday to finish 16-under for the weekend, tying Rory McIlroy's record for lowest 72-hole score under par in U.S. Open history.
The course at Erin Hills, the longest ever for a U.S. Open and with wide fairways, played right into the hands of Koepka's big swing. But he was also devastatingly accurate, missing only one green on Sunday and only 10 total over the entire weekend.
"It was kind of bombs away," Koepka told Curtis Strange after his win. "You could hit it far, and the fairways are generous enough to where you can still miss it and hit the fairway. That was a big plus for me. I'm a good ball-striker. On a couple of these par-5s I don't even need to hit driver and I can still get there. The way I putted this week was unbelievable, too."
Koepka shot 3-under on the front nine to put him at 14-under for the weekend, which established him as the favorite for much of the final round. However, a bogey on the 10th hole dropped him back a stroke and more in line with the rest of the pack.
At 13-under on the 13th hole, Koepka was in the lead but still under plenty of pressure. Brian Harman was a stroke behind and a hole back, while players such as Tommy Fleetwood and Rickie Fowler stayed in the hunt. Koepka's biggest threat at that moment, though, was Hideki Matsuyama, who birdied the 18th to finish 6-under in the final round and placed him as the leader in the clubhouse at 12-under.
Could this be the winning moment? https://t.co/GTZnATm0H1- The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) June 18, 2017
After a poor shot on the par-3 13th, Koepka made a long putt to save par and keep him one stroke ahead of Matsuyama in the lead. From there, Koepka went on a torrid run, going birdie-birdie-birdie on the 14th, 15th and 16th holes to give him six birdies on the day.
With a significant lead going into the final two holes, the two easiest on the course, Koepka admitted to watching the leaderboard, but the sight didn't slow him down. He parred each of the final holes to lock up the title.
"It's kind of hard to miss," Koepka told Strange. "There's one on every hole. I knew where I stood. I was just trying to get in as low as I could. I thought it was important to stay focused and keep the pedal down."
Koepka's U.S. Open win continues a streak of first-time major champions. The past seven majors, dating back to Jason Day's victory at the 2015 PGA Championship, have been won by first-timers.
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Cy Brown writes about soccer and other stuff for Sports on Earth. Follow him on Twitter @CEPBrown.