The US Open had a few days, didn’t it? A blimp crash, an E. coli outbreak, and the death of a 94-year-old spectator – not exactly what the USGA had in mind for their first trip to Erin Hills. Neither was the fact that one big name after another missed the cut. For all the talk that this was a major for a major name to win, the big dogs never got off the porch.
Jason Day had a rough two days. Dustin Johnson – pack your bags. Rory Mcllroy– hit the bricks. Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, thanks for coming.
Which meant you had a Sunday leaderboard with guys like Brian Harman, Tommy Fleetwood and a dude name Xander from La Jolla. If Rickie Fowler was ever going to win a major, this was his shot. Gave it a look, but missed a par putt on 12 to fall three shots back of the lead. And then it was curtains. He’s still just 28, so I don’t want to say it’s never going to happen, but at some point, you have to start cashing these in.
Then it looked like Hideki Matsuyama was going to do it. Shot a Sunday 66 with a back-nine 32, including birdie-bogey-birdie-par-birdie finish to get to 12-under. And it felt like he was in a good spot.
And he was until Brooks Koepka took over. Koepka had an absolutely brass putt on 14 to get to 14-under and a 2-shot lead. And chased that with an ice-cold birdie on 15 to take a 3-shot lead. And followed that with a bomb on 16 to get to 16-under and slam the door. He didn’t back his way into his first major, he ripped it and then ran away with it, winning by four shots. This cat went low. Really low.
And for all the cracks about this US Open turning into the Greater Milwaukee and the fact that Koepka only had one PGA Tour win before yesterday, don’t get it twisted. This isn’t some muni hack who’s famous for working out with Dustin Johnson. Yes, his route to the top was different, and involved stops in places like Kazakhstan, sleeping in his car, and winning a Challenge Tour event in Spain where the trophy was made of plastic. He’s also had top 11 finishes in each of the other three majors. He went 3-1-0 at last year’s Ryder Cup and was tied for second on the US team in points. Sure, he can bomb off the tee, but he led the tournament in greens in regulation and slammed the door on everyone with his putter.
He wasn’t feeling any nerves at all. Not only did he not have any nerves, I’m not even sure he had a pulse. That didn’t look like a guy winning his first US Open, it looked like a guy who’d won three or four.
Then again, he is the same cat who told Golf Digest two years ago that “If I could do it over again, I’d play baseball—100 percent, no doubt.” He went on to say, “Golf is kind of boring, not much action. I come from a baseball family, and it’s in my blood.”
That may be the case, but yesterday wasn’t boring at all. There’s nothing boring about smoking a 3-wood 379-yards on 18. A 3-wood. That’s two drivers for most people listening to this show. Just like there’s nothing boring about tying the record for lowest score to par in the US Open. That’s a pretty damn impressive weekend, even if Brooks himself didn’t show it.