Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Long road: Koepka's journey now includes a US Open title

Laurie Berry | 19 June, 2017, 17:57

2017 US Open Champion Brooks Koepka may well be a name you have heard of before, but do you know the story behind the golfer?

Beginning the day a stroke behind Georgia's Brian Harman, Koepka shot 5-under 67 in Sunday's final round at Erin Hills to win his first major by four strokes.

The Globe's most recent sports headlines delivered to your inbox every morning. "I think Brooks went out and won the tournament".

"Obviously the wind picked up and I felt like that played right in my hand". "I felt on Saturday I played great".

Matsuyama did his best to back-door his way into contention, shooting 6-under 66 to shoot up the leaderboard after starting the day six strokes off the lead. He balanced three birdie and three bogeys through his round. 14-16 to create plenty of distance between himself and the rest of the field. Then, as Matsuyama attacked him on the back nine and Harman bogeyed behind Koepka on 13, he responded with a crushing firestorm of tee shots and long-range putting. That's the longest streak since nine straight from the 2010 U.S. Open through the 2012 U.S. Open.

Brooks Koepka shot a 5-under 67 to finish at 16-under 272 and match Rory McIlroy's tournament record for most shots under par. Only two players in 116 previous editions - Tiger Woods in 2000 and McIlroy in 2011 - had finished under par in double digits.

Young Chinese Li Haotong wrapped up his first taste of major championship golf with a 12-over-par 84 to stand last early in Sunday's U.S. Open final round, but said he valued the experience.

One by one the contenders dropped off Sunday afternoon. He played the back nine in even par and never threatened to catch the leaders. Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed, and Si Woo Kim only managed even-par or worse.

Never mind the cricket! India beat Pakistan field hockey
Things didn't improve from there, with India all out for 158 in the 31 over, as Pakistan posted a massive 180 run victory. Zaman and Azhar Ali (59) gave Pakistan a solid start at the beginning as the duo scored 128 runs in the opening stand.

American Brooks Koepka powered his way to a first major title in record-equalling fashion as Tommy Fleetwood's fearless US Open bid ended in disappointment.

"It was fun to ... be able to score, because typically at a U.S. Open, you get your head beat in", American Rickie Fowler said. "I know I'm going to be nervous, I just need to harness that as best I can". "I think it's an awesome golf course".

While the toned-down Florida native gave fist pumps at the end of each back-nine birdie, he noted a save on the No. 13 par-3 hole that kept him at minus-2 for the day and minus-13 overall was where he found his momentum swing. He birdied the ninth and 14 holes but his race had been run.

"It was kind of bombs away", he said. "You could hit it far, and the fairways are generous enough where you could still miss it and hit the fairways". More than worrying about the uncertainty of his career, he was trying to figure a way to close one of these big ones out.

Having spent a good part of his golfing apprenticeship traveling the globe sleeping in cars and working his way up through the European minor tour, Koepka now steps into the US sporting spotlight. I'm sure Erin Hills and the USGA would like it to play firmer and faster to see what it would be like.

Brian Harman had just tied for second at the 117th U.S. Open, had just beaten 154 of the best players in the universe, had just won $1.05 million for a week's work and had just jumped into the top 10 in the Presidents Cup standings.

Those accomplishments were just a lead-up to Sunday's life-changing, record-tying victory.

"Yeah, I've never been a big, big man in any sport I've played", he said. In dedicating the victory to his dad, Bob, on Father's Day appropriately, Koepka said: "This will make up for the card that I didn't get him".


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