First-time major winners have been the trend in golf for almost two years and Brooks Koepka certainly fits the bill.
The 27-year-old Koepka carded three straight birdies on the back nine of a 5-under-par 67 and claimed a four-stroke victory over Brian Harman and Hideki Maruyama of Japan in the 117th U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Hartford, Wis.
Koepka became golf’s seventh consecutive first-time major winner and he finished at 16-under 272, equaling Rory McIlroy’s U.S. Open record for score in relation to par set in 2011 at Congressional.
“That’s about the best I’ve ever played,” said Koepka, who has won eight times as a pro, including the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open on the PGA Tour and the 2014 Turkish Airlines Open on the European Tour. “I was striking it unbelievably, my speed control (on the greens) was great, and I was flighting the ball. If you play a U.S. Open without making a double bogey, that’s pretty good.
“(The record) that’s awesome, I think it’s really cool. It hasn’t sunk in, obviously, and probably won’t for a few days. That’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced and to do it on Father’s Day, it’s pretty neat. I didn’t exactly get my dad a card, so this works.”
Matsuyama, ranked fourth in the world, closed with a 66 that included five birdies on the front nine, while 54-hole leader Brian Harman stumbled with three bogeys coming home and finished with a 72.
Tommy Fleetwood of England also had a 72 and was five shots back in solo fifth, while Xander Schauffele of San Diego shot 69 and was another stroke behind in a tie for sixth with Bill Haas, who also had a 69, and ninth-ranked Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, who totaled 72.
Charley Hoffman of Poway recorded a 71 and wound up seven back in ninth, while Trey Mullinax posted a 68 and was another shot down in a tie for 10th with Brandt Snedeker, who carded a 71, and Justin Thomas, who followed his 63 in round three with a 75.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia of Spain, ranked seventh, shot 72 and tied for 21st, while fifth-ranked Jordan Spieth had a 69 that left him in a tie for 35th.