Fred Couples was 32 years old when he won the Masters for his first, and only, major. Tom Kite was 10 years older when he won the 1992 U.S. Open. Couples and Kite ended up in the World Golf Hall of Fame, but if they played today, they would be in danger of being left behind before they got started.

Brooks Koepka went into this U.S. Open, his fifth, with one PGA Tour victory and one European Tour title. At 27, he was, in his mind, an underachiever.

It took him six years but on Sunday, Koepka finally won the major title that he has been chasing since he turned professional.

Koepka broke away from a lead pack that at one time in the final round included third-round leader Brian Harman and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood. Koepka’s 5-under-par 67 left him at 16-under, four strokes ahead of Harman and a charging Hideki Matsuyama.

Koepka, whose 16-under tied Rory McIlroy for the U.S. Open record for total score under par, became the seventh consecutive first-time winner in the men’s majors – and, by a few months, the youngest in that span.

The top 16 players heading into Sunday’s final round ran the gamut from 21-year-old Si Woo Kim to 40-year-old Charley Hoffman. They spanned the globe from the United States to South Korea. And their r??sum??s ranged from that of Harman, who missed the cut in five of his previous seven majors to that of Rickie Fowler, who recorded top-five finishes in all four majors in 2014.

For all their contrasts, they had one thing in common: none had won a major.

The course, too, was gracing the big stage for the first time. Erin Hills was a first-time Open venue. On Sunday, after three days of benign playing conditions, the wind kicked up and turned the nearly 8,000-yard layout into a bucking mule.

Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Open champion, was in the fifth of the 34 twosomes to tee off, and he tamed a course buffeted by 30 mph winds with a 3-under 69, his best round of the week by two strokes, to finish at 1-over.

The New York Times



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