BROOKS KOEPKA WINS THE 117TH US OPEN AT ERIN HILLS

         THE FRONT VIEW AND THE ARIAL VIEW OF THE ERIN HILLS CLUBHOUSE

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory to the 18th green at the 2017 US Open at Erin Hills, and on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy.

REPORTING FROM ERIN HILLS (ERIN WI.)

The US Open all of us here in the Midwest have for, for so long is over. Brooks Koepka  with a final round 67 (-16) has won the 117th U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills, and now it’s on to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Long Island in New York.

But before we move on to 2018, 2017 needs a proper send off, and the stretch run during Open Sunday at Erin hills is one that will have people talking for sometime. With Jordan Niebrugge officially breaking the record of Rounds under Par at a US Open. Niebrugge recorded the 125th round under par of the week, it broke the old record of 124 set at Medinah in 1990.

Right before Niebrugge finished, 2015 US Open Champion Jordan Spieth wrapped up his week with a 3 under par 69, his best round of the championship. Spieth called the round his best in a while, and said that he would play in Hartford next week. But when asked about the John Deere Classic by the Gog Blog he said definitely a chance,yeah. that’s been successful for us in the past. Spieth added that most of the players really liked Erin Hills, and supported a return to the course for another U.S. Open down the road.

The leader board was bunched as the leaders made the turn, 8-10 players had a chance to win the championship. But then one-by-one they started fall back except for one player, Hidecki Matsuyama who made five birdies on the back nine to close with a 66 (-6) and a -12 for the championship. He was the leader in the clubhouse and posted the number that had to be beat. When all was over, only Koepka could.

US Open Champion Brooks Koepka at the championship press conference.

Rickie Fowler who started the week strong with a seven under par 65, and the early two shot lead after 18 holes never seemed to get much going after Thursday and was unable to mount a Sunday charge starting the day just two shots back. Tommy Fleetwood was another who could not muster a run to challenge Koepka as he spend his day, giving back a shot to par on holes right after a birdie putt had fallen. Justin Thomas who set a US Open low scoring record with a 63 on Saturday, had nothing left on Sunday. He bogeyed three of the first four holes and never mounted a Sunday charge.

Hometown hero Steve Stricker shot his second consecutive 3 under par 69 on the weekend to finish at 5 under par. At about 4:30 in the afternoon Stricker was actually the leader in the club house, but when asked about it he joked that his score would win nothing. But as always Stricker was thankful for all the support from the fans, said he heard from many players that were enjoying the golf course. He expected the US Open to come back to Wisconsin someday. Stricker will play his American Family Insurance event on the Champions Tour next week, before taking two weeks off and then heading to the John Deere Classic and the British Open.

When the dust finally settled at Erin Hills, it was all about what they say at the Masters every year. The back-nine on Sunday, when Brooks Koepka simply made more putts than anybody else. Brian Harman bidding to be the first left-handed golfer to win the US Open Championship, made bogeys on holes 12 and 13 to derail his chances. Harman’s drive on 12 found the hay, and he could not get up and down on the par 3, 13th. Harman’s last charge was a near hole-in-one on the par 3, 16th. But when the tee shot came up a foot short, all Harman could do was make birdie and trim Koepka’s lead to three shots with two holes to play. A bogey on 18 left him at even par for the round, and four shots back when it was all over. He finished T-2 with Matsuyama.

While that was happening, Koepka started his birdie run to pull away. After Koepka made birdie on the par 3, 16th hole to open a four-shot the championship was basically over. With the win Koepka became the 7th straight first time major winner, and he tied the lowest final round score to par (-16) previously set by Rory McIlroy in 2011 at the Congressional Country Club.

Click here to hear the  championship interview with winner Brooks Koepka.

The low-amateur award went to Scottie Scheffler who finished at 1 under par, beating out Cameron Champ by 1 shot when Champ’s birdie attempt from 15 feet on 18, just slid by the cup.

A record number of players (31) broke par for the US Open.

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About Rory Spears

Rory spent over 8 years growing up working at Rob Roy Golf Club in Prospect Hts.IL, then two years at Chevy Chase in Wheeling. He has covered golf in Chicago since 1986. Rory was one of the initial members of WSCR all-sports radio Chicago and covered golf there for 5 seasons, before moving on to work for ESPN/Sportsticker and ESPN Radio. In addition to hosting Golfers on Golf Radio on WNDZ Am 750 Chicago, he writes for both Chicagoland Golf and the Chicago District (CDGA) Magazine. Rory has played over 460 courses in 37 states, and rates golf courses. He does golf course management and communications consulting, in the golf industry.