Major change as Koepka wins US Open

Source:Reuters Published: 2017/6/20 0:23:39

Golf sees 7th straight first-time major winner


American golfer Brooks Koepka poses with the winner's trophy after his victory at the 2017 US Open at Erin Hills in Hartford, Wisconsin on Sunday. Photo: CFP

The winds of change were blowing at the US Open on Sunday as Brooks Koepka sailed to a four-stroke victory at Erin Hills, making it the seventh consecutive major that has crowned a first-time winner.

A changing of golf's old guard has been underway for some time but the 117th US Open signaled that it can be considered complete with neither Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods teeing up at a major for the first time since the 1994 US Masters.

Fans now run to see Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, the youth movement having firmly taken hold.

Koepka, South Korea's Kim Si-woo, Japan's Hideki Matusyama, Englishman Tommy Fleetwood and Americans Brian Harman and Rickie ­Fowler were the names battling for major glory on Sunday, rather than the likes of Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink and Ernie Els.

Sentiment and nostalgia will always find a place on the leader board, as 37-year-old Sergio Garcia showed by notching his first major win at the Masters in April, while 50-year-old Wisconsin native Steve Stricker ­provided an emotional touchstone in an Erin Hills swan song.

But the year's second major belonged to the young guns who ­tackled the longest layout ever for a US Open.

Koepka, who looks as if he would be at home in a National Football League huddle, held firm against ­buffeting winds and crushing pressure to claim a sensational four-shot victory over Harman and Matsuyama.

The muscular American, who ­started the day one shot back of the lead, tamed his nerves and a wind-whipped course, carding six birdies, including two to kick-start his round, against a single bogey for a five-under 67.

Koepka's winning total of 16-­under equals the lowest score to par for a US Open, matching Rory McIlroy's victory at Congressional in 2011 on a par-71 layout.

After days of being humbled, Erin Hills turned nasty for the final round as heavy winds pummeled the links-style layout adding an intriguing wrinkle to the year's second major.

But Koepka would not be blown off course producing a near-flawless final round, subduing the winds with a mix of power and precision.

"Obviously the wind picked up and I felt like that played right into my hand," said Koepka, who ­considers himself a good ball-striker and good putter.

Koepka, who had just one PGA Tour win on his resume coming into the championship, inherits the trophy from good friend and world No.1 Johnson.

"Dustin actually called me last night and told me the same thing, just stay patient," said Koepka.

"Just keep doing what you're ­doing, you're going to win the thing.

"I felt like that has been the thing lately with me, why I haven't really played that well, I've been trying to win so badly.

"I felt like I've underachieved."



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