Brooks Koepka was holding steady in buffeting winds, powering to a one-shot lead in the final round of the U.S. Open yesterday with nine holes to play. Instead, Thomas wasted many of his best opportunities by playing out of the rough, unable to target greens as aggressively.
Hideki Matsuyama finished like a champion, firing the best score of the final round at the U.S. Open on Sunday but despite his six-under-par 66 had to settle for a tie for second place at Erin Hills. At 27, he was, in his mind, an underachiever.
Koepka's 72-hole total of 16-under 272 tied the tournament record for lowest total under par, which was set by McIlroy at Congressional Country Club in 2011.
Koepka, whose caddie Ricky Elliott is from Portrush in Northern Ireland, becomes the seventh first-time major victor in succession, a run stretching back to Jason Day's victory in the 2015 US PGA Championship.
The stretch during which Koepka won this tournament started on the 13th hole Sunday. The combination of the human mind and mother nature carved a attractive track that will be seen on TV screens for years to come.
Johnson, who didn't make the cut, called Koepka on Saturday night.
Koepka was mostly unknown to the casual golf watcher but his athletic build and solid form have made him a favorite of those looking for the next star of their fantasy golf league.
"It was a long phone call for us - it was like 2 minutes", Koepka said.
"You can't make mistakes every shot".
There is also a financial windfall for Elliott, who pockets a percentage of Koepka's prize money of £1.6m.
But before earning a European Tour card in 2013, those high points were punctuated by doubts.
"That's probably the most emotion I've ever shown", Koepka said afterward. On some of these par fives I did not even have to hit a driver to get to the green in two. My timing was just a little bit off.
For those of you who don't know, I'm from MI.
The reason was no mystery to Koepka's caddie, Ricky Elliott. They spanned the globe from the United States to South Korea. This was his fifth top-5 in a major. It was the first time in the history of his career that he ever withdrew from an event.
Some of the loudest cheers at the U.S. Open were reserved for a guy who never really challenged the leaders. On Sunday, after three days of benign playing conditions, the wind kicked up and turned the almost 8,000-yard layout into a bucking mule. His tee time proved to be as much an obstacle as the 25-mph wind on Sunday.
With the stunning clubhouse in the background, and the gods of Holy Hill staring at you, it's a great place to finish off the year of majors. He shot a 74 to finish at 7 over at Erin Hills, well off the lead.
The 2017 U.S. Open has proven to be one for the ages, not because of pure dominance by an individual but for a constantly changing leaderboard. This was their U.S. Open to step forward and demonstrate the broad sweep of 20-something talent that fills the game.
The resulting birdie reduced his deficit to playing partner Koepka to four shots, Koepka having followed birdies on the first and second with another from 35 feet on the eighth.
Thomas, 24 and already a three-time tour victor this season, could not avoid a similar letdown. Thomas finished tied for ninth at 8 under.
It's just a matter of time for 2017 Honda classic champion Rickie Fowler, too, right? "He was courageous is the thing that stuck with me, always wanting to push forward even after a bad shot and take on shots which may not always pay off but when they do he wins or does very well".
For the most part, the players loved the course, especially the young bombers who are taking over the game.
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