Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida State alumnus Brooks Koepka wins U.S. Open (w/ video)

ERIN, Wis. — Brooks Koepka received a succinct piece of advice from a valuable source on the eve of the U.S. Open's final round.

His friend, defending champion Dustin Johnson, was doing the talking.

"It was a long phone call for us. It was, like, two minutes," Koepka said. "But he just said a few things — I'll win if I stay patient and just keep doing what I'm doing."

With athleticism and power, and four straight putts on the back nine that allowed him to pull away, Koepka capped off his hardscrabble journey around the world by winning his first major at home.

The former Florida State standout closed with 5-under 67 Sunday, realizing only 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. Koepka finished at 16-under 272, matching the lowest score to par, set by Rory McIlroy in 2011 while winning at Congressional in Bethesda, Md.

Tied for the lead with six holes to play, Koepka, 27, holed an 8-foot par putt on No. 13 that gave him confidence with his stroke and momentum to pour in birdies on the next three holes to turn the final hour into what amounted to a runaway victory.

Koepka won by four over third-round leader Brian Harman (70), who was done in by back-to-back bogeys when Koepka was making his run, and Hideki Matsuyama, whose 66 was the day's best round.

"That's probably the most emotion I've ever shown coming down the stretch," Koepka said.

Emotion? The most he displayed was a light fist pump, his hand clenched a little tighter with each birdie, and a double fist pump on the 18th when he tapped in for par.

It capped quite a journey for the Wellington native. Without a card on any tour when he got out of FSU, Koepka filled his passport on the Challenge Tour with stamps from Kazakhstan and Kenya, Scotland and Spain, India and Madeira Island.

One night in Scotland, he called his agent and wanted to come home, though he was leading the tournament. He had been on the road for so long, in so many countries, and was feeling lonely. He won the next day to graduate to the European Tour. The next year, he earned a spot in the 2014 U.S. Open through a qualifier in England, and his tie for fourth helped him earn a card on the PGA Tour.

"To go over there, I think it helped me grow up a little bit and really figure out that, hey, play golf, get it done, and then you can really take this somewhere," said Koepka, who made his first U.S. Ryder Cup team last year.

The low scoring went much deeper than Koepka's final score. Only six players had ever reached double digits under par in the previous 116 U.S. Opens. McIlroy and Tiger Woods (12 under at Pebble Beach in 2000) had been the only players to finish there. This year, nine players reached at least 10 under, and seven finished there.

The week ended with 31 players under par, breaking the record of 28 at Medinah in 1990. There were 133 sub-par rounds, nine more than the record set in that 1990 U.S. Open.

Another who finished in double digits was Rickie Fowler (72), who was poised at yet another major to win only to fall back. He was only two behind when he made the turn, but bogeys on 12 and 15 — and no birdies until 18 — ended his hopes. He finished 10 under.

"I feel like I'm playing at the highest level," Fowler said. "You have to measure success in different ways, not just by winning, because that doesn't happen a whole lot."

Justin Thomas, coming off a 9-under 63 that matched the major championship scoring record and was the first 9-under round at a U.S. Open, shot 75 to tie for ninth at 8 under.

"Well, it wasn't going to be like (Saturday), regardless," he said.

U.S. Open

by the numbers

1 Player to reach at least 13 under at the Open from 1895-2016 (Rory McIlroy, 2011).

2 Players to reach at least 13 under this year (Brooks Koepka, Brian Harman).

3 Straight American winners of the Open, the first time that has happened since 1998-2000.

7 Consecutive first-time winners in golf's majors with Brooks Koepka's victory.

7 Players finished 10 under or better; before this year, that would have won all but two U.S. Opens.

16 Under par for Koepka, tying McIlroy in 2011 for lowest 72-hole score to par in tournament history.

67 Final-round score for Koepka, lowest by a tournament champion since Tiger Woods in 2000 at Pebble Beach.

The Brooks Koepka dossier

• Grew up in Wellington in Palm Beach County and attended Cardinal Newman High

• Won boys state golf title at Cardinal Newman in 2006

• At Florida State was a three-time All-American

• Turned pro in 2012

• U.S. Open is his first major win. Has one other PGA Tour win, 2015 Phoenix Open

• Younger brother Chase played at USF (2012-16); he won school-record four tournaments and helped Bulls make consecutive trips to NCAA Championships for first time

Source: Golf Channel, ESPN, Associated Press, Palm Beach Post, Jupiter Magazine

Florida State alumnus Brooks Koepka wins U.S. Open (w/ video) 06/18/17 [Last modified: Monday, June 19, 2017 6:36am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Buccaneers WR Mike Evans previews 2017-18 NBA season, predicts Warriors will be dethroned

    Bucs

    Tampa isn't the greatest basketball market. In fact, it's just about the worst.

    Mike Evans and Jameis Winston celebrate after connecting for a touchdown against the Bears in September. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Peter Budaj, Lightning lose to Devils in shootout; Nikita Kucherov scores

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — For Peter Budaj, Tuesday's season debut had a shaky start.

    The Lightning’s Vladislav Namestnikov, right, battles Damon Severson for the puck.
  3. Lightning's Steve Yzerman enjoying Nikita Kucherov's scoring run

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — If anyone knows what it is like to be as hot as Nikita Kucherov is right now, it's Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, of Russia, celebrates after scoring a goal on the New Jersey Devils during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  4. Bucs journal: Offense needs to get off to a faster start

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The past two games have seen the Bucs offense muster furious rallies in the fourth quarter of losses, with 229 yards against the Patriots and a franchise-record 27 points against the Cardinals.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
  5. NFL players, owners hold 'constructive' talks on issues

    Bucs

    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive" and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed "positive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]