ERIN, Wis. — Brooks Koepka has never feared the unknown.
Traveling the world over during his foray into professional golf on the European Tour and its developmental circuit, the former Florida State All-American visited many lands, from Kenya to Kazakhstan, from Spain to Scotland, from South Africa to Shanghai. It was an unconventional route to golf’s biggest stages, but the adventurous soul loved it.
So mammoth, mysterious Erin Hills, just 11 years old and basically unfamiliar to all 156 players who came to Wisconsin for the 117th edition of the U.S. Open, wasn’t going to rattle the muscular Floridian, no matter how much fescue, distance and sharp edges the course can dish out.
Koepka, 27, comfortably settled in and unleashed his eye-opening power to get the better of Erin Hills and won the national championship on Sunday in record fashion.
With a final round, 5-under-par 67, Koepka finished at 16 under and four shots clear of 54-hole leader Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama. With rounds of 67-70-68-67, Koepka equaled the scoring record in relation to par set by Rory McIlroy in 2011 at Congressional Country Club.
“It’s unbelievable,” Koepka said. “I don’t really know what to say. It’s pretty cool.”
Koepka, who missed just one green in regulation in the final round, began his round with two birdies and then stormed away from the field and turned the wide-open U.S. Open into a one-man show with three consecutive birdies on the back nine starting on the 14th.
He became the seventh consecutive first-timer to win a major, adding to the list of Jason Day, Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson, Jimmy Walker and Sergio Garcia. He’ll move from his present rank of No. 22 in the official world rankings into the top 12. And he banked $2.16 million.
Harman, who began the day with a one-shot lead, was tied for the lead with seven holes to play but couldn’t keep up with Koepka and finished with a 72. Matsuyama came storming home with a 66, the lowest round of the day.
Tommy Fleetwood (72) finished in solo fourth.
In a tie for fifth at 10 under were Rickie Fowler (72), Bill Haas (69) and Xander Schauffele (69). Charley Hoffman (71) finished eighth at 9 under.
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