Koepka seals US Open title with birdie blitz

Koepka was one of 16 players within six shots of the lead with 18 to play.

And when he completed his hat-trick from 16 feet on the 16th, all that was left to decide was whether he would equal or break McIlroy's record. But a deft pitch was followed by an unerring putt from just inside seven feet.

Koepka bludgeons a 3-wood 379 yards down the final fairway. As the American captain of this year's Presidents Cup team, Stricker, 50, had a vested interest in how Koepka, Harman, Fowler - and even Matsuyama, a lock for the worldwide squad - finished.

His play this past fall in the Ryder Cup when the USA whipped Europe, where he said he had never felt more pressure, helped him immensely. "I played two good rounds, but it wasn't enough". "That's what I kept doing", he told a news conference. Then he just cruised in playing great.

Until this past week, patience had done little to guide Koepka, who has been in a hurry since he turned pro in 2012 after a solid college career at Florida State. Three wins on the second-tier Challenge Tour over two months in 2013, earned him the right to jump to the European Tour.

The winds of change were blowing at the US Open on Sunday as Brooks Koepka sailed to a four-stroke victory at Erin Hills. PHOTO: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. With the course's best defense non-existent, the narrative of par being your friend in a U.S. Open was flipped on its head. Success was not long in arriving. And by the middle of the back nine, only one player remained standing.

"It feels fantastic to get my name on this trophy with so many other great names", Koepka said after becoming the seventh first-time major victor in succession, a run stretching back to Jason Day's victory in the 2015 US PGA Championship.

His time in Europe was short-lived though.

He defended his title in the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February, beating Webb Simpson in a playoff at TPC Scottsdale. Surprisingly, that was his only victory until this, his breakthrough at major championship level.

"It was pretty cool to watch Tiger win; I'm not going to lie", Koepka said. It doesn't really surprise me. If there's no wind and soft greens, we're going to play well.

"I was able to get to a few under by just accepting the fact that the putt might miss instead of having to have it be ideal. So to feel as confident as I did on a Sunday of a major and coming down the stretch was pretty neat". The Evertonian had trouble coping with the conditions during the embryonic stages of his round but managed to steady himself towards the tail end of his round to finish even for the day. PHOTO: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.

Koepka landed the first blow on the par-four eighth, draining a magnificent 33ft putt to move one clear at 14 under.

Harman made par on every hole on the front nine except three where he birdied. And on 11 I did the same thing for birdie.

"I felt on Saturday I played great". The top 16 players at the beginning of play Sunday ran the gamut from 21-year-old Si Woo Kim to 40-year-old Charley Hoffman.

Low amateur: Scottie Scheffler walked away with low amateur honors after a final-round 73 to finish 1 under.

And now he gets to keep it for a year, with his name on it. His round of 66 was over almost 90 minutes before Koepka strolled to the 18th green, with the tournament all but wrapped up. He posted the low round of the day. "But Brooks played so well today", Harman said. Not that I'm an old man by any means, but I'm 30.

Brooks Koepka may be known for mashing drives like American League MVP Mike Trout, but it was his shortest club that separated him from the field on Sunday's back nine. Wish him well and congratulate him.

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