Brooks Koepka outmuscled Erin Hills with an important sport and a chip on his shoulder

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This story will seem in this week’s issue of sports Illustrated.

For some time there it seemed as if the 117th U.S. Open was going to be determined by lovable, elfin golfers who collectively would make an outstanding boy band. enjoying within the remaining staff used to be Justin Thomas, propelled by way of the report 63 he shot on Saturday whereas carrying sizzling-crimson trousers and a coral belt. also within the combine used to be Rickie Fowler, who’s having a look an increasing number of like Leonardo DiCaprio and, sadly, developing a similar penchant for happening with the ship. for a lot of the ultimate round cherubic Brian Harman, all 5’ 7″ of him, held a piece of the lead. and then large, bad Brooks Koepka came through.

About Brooks
Brooks is the plural of brook. Brooks could seek advice from:

Brooks Koepka outmuscled Erin Hills with a huge game and a chip on his shoulder

About Koepka

Koepka, 27, has an square jaw proper out of the Pleistocene Epoch and favors some of tightest sleeves on the PGA Tour, the simpler to display biceps that are about as large round because the waist of Tommy Fleetwood, his long-haired taking part in accomplice on Sunday. Koepka likes to tell journalists, “i am now not a golf nerd.” No, he is 6 feet and 197 pounds of whoopass. closing week he clubbed into submission the longest path in main championship history, and alongside the way in which he didn’t beat his more ballyhooed contemporaries a lot as crush them like an aluminum can towards his forehead. Koepka’s macho play—and the effect it had on his would-be competitors—was once now not a surprise to Steve Stricker, who as an assistant captain at the 2016 Ryder Cup used to be assigned to monitor Koepka in his debut. “He looks as if he wants to struggle you,” says Stricker. “He looks as if he desires to punch you within the mouth. that is what i like about him—he is bought an edge. evidently it can be intimidating to play towards. You get a guy who is built like a linebacker and pounds the crap out of the ball, after which looks over like he wants to brawl, yeah, that has an effect.”

Koepka’s four-stroke triumph at Erin Hills, a vast new canvas within the Wisconsin geographical region, was most effective his 2d PGA Tour victory, nevertheless it should not rate as a shock, given his manifold bodily items and the swagger with which he has all the time carried himself. Koepka is celebrated in golf circles for his brash civil disobedience on the 2015 British Open at St. Andrews; with high winds inflicting balls to twitch on the greens, Koepka refused to proceed enjoying despite the admonishments of a tweedy principles reputable, who made it known that he carried the title of Sir. “i don’t provide a f— who you are,” Koepka replied, according to lore. “i’m no longer enjoying except my ball stops oscillating.”

Brooks Koepka outmuscled Erin Hills with an important game and a chip on his shoulder

Erin Hills was no match for Koepka's blistering drives and precise iron play.

Erin Hills was once no fit for Koepka’s blistering drives and precise iron play.

Robert Beck for sports Illustrated

battling to make the Ryder Cup group remaining summer, he limped throughout the PGA Championship on a badly sprained proper ankle, gutting out a fourth place end that deeply impressed his quickly-to-be teammates. At Hazeltine—where he would go three–1 to assist lead the U.S. to its first victory since 2008—Koepka was once paired with Brandt Snedeker in a irritating alternate-shot healthy when he uncorked a cold shank on the twelfth. “Worst shank I’ve ever seen,” says Snedeker. “the general public would’ve been freaking out after that.” still, they have been able to halve that gap, and at the next, an exacting 248-yard par-three, Koepka rifled a 4-iron to 6 ft. “most certainly the very best shot I’ve ever considered under force,” says Snedeker. “It by no means left the pin. that is after I stated, O.okay., this child’s got something completely different.”

however as he watched a handful of contemporaries damage thru at major championships, Koepka says he felt like an underachiever. A late bloomer is extra adore it. an excellent-nephew of former Pirates shortstop Dick Groat, who won two World series and was the 1960 national League MVP, Koepka grew up in Wellington, Fla., dreaming of the key leagues. however when he was once a boy his nose and sinus cavity have been fractured in a automotive accident; baseball was deemed too risky, so he switched his center of attention to golf. evenly recruited, he wound up at Florida State, where he didn’t win a match unless his senior year. After flunking out of the PGA Tour’s Q faculty in 2012, he lit out for the problem tour, the minor leagues of the european tour.

Koepka took 4 problem titles through a total of 23 strokes, top friend and colleague Bud Cauley to look at, “Brooks has received more tournaments in the final six months then the remainder of his lifestyles blended.” Criss-crossing Europe and elements of Asia to play in podunk occasions was once a increase experience for a child who enjoyed an admittedly comfy upbringing. Says Koepka’s Irish caddie, Ricky Elliott, “he’s slept in his automobile [in Kazakhstan]. he’s slept in a BB with four of us [in one room] and struggled alongside the way, and that’s helped him savor where he’s.”

Koepka and his caddie share a quiet moment during the final round.

Koepka and his caddie share a quiet second all through the ultimate spherical.

Robert Beck for sports activities Illustrated

In late 2013, Koepka was hitting balls on the Floridian Golf membership when a mutual acquaintance persuaded Claude Harmon to check out this uncooked talent. alongside together with his celebrated father, Butch, Claude was once already practise Dustin Johnson and used to keeping off younger execs hungry for guidance. “it can be a little bit like Nick Saban or Mike Krzyzewski looking at a bunch of potentialities,” Harmon says. “I used to be already beautiful busy with DJ, in an effort to tackle anyone else they would have to soar out at you. I watched Brooks hit a few balls and went, Wow! You simply don’t see velocity like that every day.”

After just a few more swings, Koepka mumbled, “Man, I hate seeking to hit attracts.”

“So why are you seeking to hit attracts?” Harmon requested.

“the guy i’m working with desires me to.”

“And you don’t want to?”

“No.”

“which is your fault. if you want to hit fades all it’s important to do is get the membership from here to right here.”

Koepka did as he was suggested, launched just a few bombs and said, “Man, it will probably’t be this easy.”

“neatly, it must be, because the activity you might be enjoying is complicated enough.”

they’ve been working together ever for the reason that, just as Koepka’s quick-sport has a great deal benefitted from an extended affiliation with Pete Cowen, the Yoda of the Euro tour. general mechanical adjustments and some easy thoughts unlocked Koepka’s motion. “The tougher he swings,” says Harmon, “the straighter the ball goes.”

In 2015, the yr Koepka gained his first PGA Tour event, in Phoenix, Tiger Woods’s former caddie Steve Williams advised Golf Digest, “once in a great while a participant comes along who hits a golf ball the way it was intended to be hit. powerful, piercing, the very best trajectory. Of the younger gamers out there, one I’ve considered has that special ball flight: Brooks Koepka. Adam [Scott] and i had been paired with him at the Open Championship last year, and from his first tee shot on, i assumed, This kid is unique. obviously he’s looking to find the opposite elements of the puzzle, however i have never considered a ball flight like that for the reason that Tiger, and prior to that, Johnny Miller.”

throughout 2015 and ‘sixteen Koepka had three top 10s in the majors, however something used to be still missing. Enter Johnson, the 2016 U.S. Open champ. ultimate year Koepka talked about to his buddy that he used to be going to hire a house while renovating his residence in Jupiter, Fla. according to Johnson’s trainer, Joey Diovisalvi, “DJ says to Brooks, ‘Bro, stay with me, I’ve obtained plenty of space. i’m going to train you learn how to drive a ship.'” Koepka crashed with Johnson for six months and got an in depth-up take a look at his ascent to the highest of the world rating. After a protracted courtship, this spring Koepka persuaded Diovisalvi to take him on as a client. “He got here in as this sort of cocky little bastard,” says Diovisalvi. “on the time Brooks used to be 18th on the planet and he says to me, ‘I only have 17 spots to head to alleviate DJ of his place.'” but Koepka backed up the trash discuss with a seemingly limitless capability for work. “He’ll die on any hill you set him on,” says Diovisalvi.

lots of Koepka’s training periods now occur alongside Johnson, who delights in hazing his protégé. “it is a brotherly relationship,” says Diovisalvi. “Brooks emulates the whole thing DJ does. He seems as much as him while he is getting needled via him.” Dustin’s favorite putdown: “Take your diaper off and begin lifting some real weight.”

Fully in command, Koepka hits his second shot on the 72nd hole.

absolutely in command, Koepka hits his 2nd shot on the 72nd hole.

Robert Beck for sports Illustrated

during the last three months Koepka has packed on 10 kilos of muscle, and he believed his sport was once peaking as he arrived at Erin Hills, the place he had performed the U.S. beginner Championship in 2011. facing extensive fairways and vegetables softened via rain, Koepka may bomb away with impunity. (For the week he simplest as soon as hit more than a 7-iron into a par-4.) With rounds of sixty seven-70-68 he was tied for second and a shot back heading into the final round but, typically, had been overshadowed by using Fowler’s flashy bogey-free 65 on Thursday and Thomas’s electric 63, which at nine underneath set a U.S. Open record when it comes to par. These young, telegenic americans have been all in search of their first main championship victory—Fowler had been one stroke off the lead via 54 holes at the Masters in April only to shoot 76 to complete 11th—however for Koepka it was once extra non-public. “he’s by no means had the acclaim of a Justin Thomas or a Rickie Fowler,” says Harmon. “It gives Brooks somewhat chip on his shoulder. It drives him.”

Koepka introduced his intentions on Sunday with birdies on the first two holes. Fowler and Thomas speedy light, undone with the aid of a sequence of loose pictures and timid putts. best the feisty Harman used to be sport. the 2 were tied until Harman bogeyed the twelfth gap from the fescue simply as Koepka used to be pouring in an eight-footer to save par at 13. Koepka then unleashed all of his want and can into a burst of three straight birdies that used to be a testomony to his various abilities. similar to that, a hectic final round become a blowout. On the 18th gap Koepka determined to play it protected off the tee with a three-timber . . . and nuked his drive 379 yards. His handiest blemish in a five-below sixty seven was a 3-putt bogey at the 10th. For the week he completed seventh in using distance, at 322.1 yards a pop, and he tied an Open document for a champion by using hitting 86.1% of vegetables in legislation. (a major man with tender fingers, he also completed 1/3 in strokes received-hanging.) At 16 under, Koepka tied Rory McIlroy for the lowest ranking in U.S. Open historical past. When it was once over he stated, “This week I honestly don’t think I ever acquired worried. I simply stayed in the second.”

The newly minted champ after holing out on the 18th hole at Erin Hills on Sunday.

The newly minted champ after holing out on the 18th hole at Erin Hills on Sunday.

Pete Madia for sports activities Illustrated

Koepka, who with the aid of advantage of his victory moved to 10th on this planet rating, can appear unaffected to the point of being aloof, but on Sunday evening, in a small room within the corner of a big white tent that was serving as a brief locker room, he ultimately let down his shield. He used to be sitting on the elbow of a gray-haired gent who used to be engraving KOEPKA onto a trophy already adorned with so many glittering names.

“O earlier than E, not E ahead of O,” he cracked.

When the champ was eventually handed the completed product, he cooed, “Man, this is so cool.” Koepka then gathered his individuals for a toast: Harmon and Elliott; new girlfriend Jena Sims, an actress; and agent Blake Smith. They hoisted champagne flutes and cans of beer, while Koepka held a clear glass of brown liquid.

“it’s been a long road,” Elliott stated.

Golf’s most dangerous bruiser flashed an incredible, boyish smile. “but we made it,” Koepka said, after which he took a greedy gulp.