Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Koepka clinches first major with victory at US Open

Brooks Koepka admitted patience was the key to his record-equalling victory at the 2017 US Open at Erin Hills on Sunday.

What do you do when you've been in a serious vehicle accident as a child and your doctor advises you to avoid all contact sports?

"Even though the scores were somewhat lower than a normal U.S. Open, but to finish in double digits, under par at a major championship, especially the Open, it was a good week".

But on 15, which was the toughest-playing hole on the course Sunday, he put his approach about 10 feet away for a birdie attempt. "We stuck with golf for a little while and it's panned out".

Turns out, they think pretty much the same.

The crash left him battered, bruised and looking like he'd done "six rounds with Muhammad Ali". But Koepka is one of those. One being the champion, but others - like Brian Harman and Tommy Fleetwood - played well the entire tournament. "One of them was me and I said, 'Dad, that's weird!' I guess I'll have to get used to being in the spotlight there now".

"But to get to travel the world at 21 years old and do what we do for a living is pretty neat". I played two good rounds. "Just keep doing what you're doing, you're going to win the thing, and just don't get ahead of yourself". I was kind of - I don't want to say homesick, it was just exhausted of golf.

Koepka followed his first career title at the Challenge de Catalunya with victories at Italy's Montecchia Open, the Challenge de España and the Scottish Hydro Challenge. "And to win on the European Tour in Turkey".

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"I have no idea why", he reflects. I'd played so many weeks in a row.

"Golf's my job, it's not my life". He headed for the golf course instead and enrolled on a junior programme which set him on his way.

"I love travelling. I'll go anywhere". It's something I do.

"You can't make mistakes every shot". What's more, his mother, Denise, was fighting breast cancer at the time.

At the third hole Sunday, Hadwin was serenaded by a handful of boisterious Canadian fans, who broke out into an off-key rendition of O Canada to honour the golfer. "It was a long phone call for us, it was like two minutes".

Koepka also became the seventh consecutive first-time victor in a men's Major, and he is the youngest of the seven by a few months.

It has all led to this.

The number of birdies in Dustin Johnson's first round as defending champion.

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"I drove the ball really well this week and that really helped", said Koepka, who made three birdies in succession from the 14th as he matched the winning score posted by Rory McIlroy at Congressional in 2011. And I felt confident all week. I've been trying to win too badly.

"I just wanted to be home, even though I was about to win the third one".

In the short term, John Morrissett, competitions director at Erin Hills, said the No. 1 priority for the course is to get it back into shape for regular play, which starts July 1.

The miscues put Koepka alone back on top of the leaderboard, a perch from which he would not be removed.

"It's unbelievable", he says.

Koepka feels honoured to have lifted the trophy and added: "It feels fantastic to get my name on this trophy with so many other great names".

The celebration was about as muted as you'll ever see from someone who just won his first major. I just stayed in the moment. "I've got high expectations for myself and, right now, I feel like I can do anything".

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