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

Isaac Cain
June 19, 2017

Even if he was about the only one who ever referred to himself as such.

Butch Harmon reflects on Brooks Koepka's impressive maiden major success at the US Open and reviews another near-miss for Rickie Fowler at Erin Hills.

The fast-moving Koepka captured the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open but despite often putting himself in contention, the wins did not continue to flow and from 21 top-10 finishes on the US -based tour, he only had the one victory.

As far as Koepka is concerned, it was about time.

"I'd love to get a map and just look at all the places I've won", Koepka said.

While the big names were mostly gone from contention after two rounds, the relatively unknown Koepka emerged from the large group of unfamiliar names still remaining during the weekend, and his historic performance signals his arrival in a sport somewhat transitioning from a struggling old guard to exciting new kids. And it wasn't enough that he had four top-10 finishes in his first 14 majors. "I just won in Japan in November", he said about the Dunlop Phoenix event. "It made me feel a lot better seeing Brooks shoot 5 under". And I don't want to say got unlucky, I felt like I just never fully came together.

The 27-year-old from Florida fired a five-under-par final round 67 to finish on 16 under for the tournament following a tense duel with compatriot Brian Harman that was settled on the home stretch at the rural Wisconsin course. "And I'll win if I stay patient and just keep doing what I'm doing". I don't know why. "No regrets, I did play well. I just couldn't stand the fact that I'd only won once".

"Yeah, if you had told me I was going to shoot 12 under this year at a U.S. Open and not win, " he said, "I would have taken the bet for sure". His message was short and sweet. "It was a long phone call for us, it was like two minutes it wasn't much. Exhausted of traveling. I just wanted to be home", he said.

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Koepka, who played a leading role in helping the United States wrest back the Ryder Cup from Europe a year ago, said the experience of playing in the bearpit-like conditions of the competition had prepared him for Sunday. He won on that, moved over to the PGA Tour and worked hard to get up the money list to where he is today. Great player, great kid. From then on in it just wasn't his day, and he has to learn how to close majors out on Sundays. "I don't get too nervous".

"And to be honest with you, this week I don't think I ever got nervous, not at one point". "I just felt like I should be winning more".

He closed with a 5-under 67, only realizing after his par on the final hole that a birdie would have set yet another U.S. Open record in a week filled with them.

"It hasn't sunk in, obviously, yet, and probably won't for a few days", said Koepka. "It feels unbelievable to get my name on this trophy with so many other great names".

By the time he got to No. 18, the only question remaining was whether or not he would break McIlroy's record.

Tied for the lead with six holes to play, Koepka holed an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole that gave him confidence with his stroke - and momentum to pour in birdies on the next three holes to turn the final hour into a celebration of another young star in golf.

Miller said to Golf Channel: "Taking nothing away from nine under par".

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