The 2018 U.S. Open kicks off next Thursday at America’s oldest golf club, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, in Southampton, NY on Long Island. The event is the 118th edition of America’s oldest major and is considered one of golf’s most prestigious events. The tournament was started in 1895 by the United States Golfers Association as America’s premier professional tournament. The tournament has been won by legends of the game, including Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus. Aiming for a repeat this year is Brooks Koepka, as he looks to defend his record breaking 2017 U.S. Open win.
Brooks Koepka is a professional golfer born in Wellington, Florida in 1990. After playing golf throughout his youth, Koepka would go on to play college golf at Florida State University. While at FSU, he won three NCAA events and was named a three-time All-American. In 2012, Koepka turned professional by forging a new path for American golfers by joining the European Challenge Tour, a second-tier tour akin to America’s Web.com Tour. After multiple victories in 2012 and 2013, Koepka would make the jump to the European Tour for the second half of 2013. Koepka would then add PGA Tour events to his calender in 2014, performing well enough to earn his PGA Tour card for 2015. A win at the rowdy Waste Management Phoenix Open established Koepka as a fan-favorite and an elite golfer. Koepka would continue his solid play and win his first major title in 2017 at the U.S. Open.
2017 U.S. Open
The 2017 U.S. was played for the first time at Erin Hills in Erin, Wisconsin. The course was a cause for complaint by many golfers leading up to the tournament, as many believe the course had been made too hard by USGA mandated changes. However, when Rickie Fowler shot a -7 on the first round, a tie for the lowest first round score in U.S. Open history, the complaints died down as favorable weather conditions kept the scores low. Koepka finished the round -5 and tied-4. The second round would finish with four golfers tied for first, including Koepka, and a further eight golfers within two strokes of the lead. However, the second round saw Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, the top-3 ranked players in the world, all cut from the tournament. This was the first and only time the top-3 ranked players in the world missed the cut at a major since official rankings began.
After the second round cut, the third round would end with Brian Harmon on top with -12, with Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka all one stroke behind. Koepka strode into the lead on the final day with consecutive birdies on hole 1 and 2. From there, he never reliquished the lead. Koepke finished the round -16 and a champion, tying Rory McIlroy’s record for lowest score at a U.S. Open. In fact, Koepke was a full 4 strokes ahead of Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama in second place. Koepka will look to defend his title in his first major of the year after missing the Masters due to injury, though the notorious greens at Shinnecock Hills stand in his way.