Brooks Koepke wins US Open

19 June 2017

Brooks Koepke has emerged as the surprise winner of the US Open at Erin Hills, producing a sensational performance to equal Rory McIlroy's competition record of 16 under par.
Pundits had expected an American winner, but all eyes had been on tournament holder and world number one Dustin Johnson. Instead, the reigning champion surprisingly missed the cut and could only watch on with the rest as the 27-year-old Koepke, who had only three professional titles to his name before now, secured his first major.
The capricious nature of a course with  thick grass rough, the widest fairways in US Open history and post-glacial undulations threw many top players off the hunt. Johnson's failure to make the cut was matched by McIlroy and Jason Day, making this the first time since the rankings were introduced in 1986 that the world's top three all failed to make the cut in a major.
It required a performance round to win and it was not just Koepke who emerged unexpectedly from the pack, as for much of the tournament it seemed Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, the world number 33, could push on to win his first major in what was only his second US Open.
In the event, Fleetwood was unable to keep up with Koepke in the final round as the American surged ahead in the front nine holes and held his nerve thereafter. Fleetwood eventually finished fourth on 11 under par, with Hideki Matsuyama and Brain Harman tying for second on 12 under. Of the world's top ten, only Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler were in the running at all on the last day, and they are both players who themselves are yet to win a major.
However, while the biggest names in the sport were left trailing, Johnson was at least able to contribute in another way. Koepke revealed the world number one had given him a useful pep-talk on the Saturday night.
"Dustin actually called me last night and told me the same thing, just stay patient. Just keep doing what you're doing, you're going to win the thing, and just don't get ahead of yourself. A bunch of people told me that," he revealed.
Koepke's statistics were very revealing. His driving was not the longest - he only came seventh at an average of 322.1 yards - but he hit the fairways 49 times out of 56 and the greens 62 times out of 72, better than anyone else. His putting was also successful, with an average of 1.17 shots per hole.
All this may turn out to be the moment of a lifetime for a journeyman golfer who had an inspired weekend. It is the kind of feat that will inspire golfers everywhere to wonder what they might achieve on some golden day, not least those enjoying the Experience St Andrews as they walk in the footsteps of legends.
Matsuyama and Fleetwood were the only non-Americans in the top ten, with the next best overseas player being Korean Si Woon Kim, who was tied for 13th. The next best British performance came from Eddie Pepperell in joint 16th.


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