Sunday, June 18, 2017

Brooks Koepka -- US Open champion

Hats off to Mr. Koepka, the 2017 US Open champion, and a worthy one at that.

This is what happens when a player puts up three solid rounds of golf from Thurs thru Sat, then comes out on Sunday to blister an already ridiculously long and difficult course with a 5 under par 67.

While others were either treading water or falling back, BK hit seventeen out of eighteen greens in regulation, and made a fabulous sand save on the remaining one.

Throw in the fact that he was deadly with the putter. With one lone exception, he pretty much drilled everything from within 15 feet of the hole. Also add a couple long bomb putts -- OK -- a little luck doesn't hurt either, but it WAS what he was aiming for, and this is the stuff of champions.

Clearing the field by 4 shots in a US Open is very impressive stuff. A final tally of 16 under par (an all-time record) at a US Open course, typically laid out where EVEN par is the standard of excellence, is even more impressive.

Alas, Brian Harmon, the third round leader, and a lefty, would be among those to fall back a tad. In the entire history of the US Open, now 117 years, a southpaw has yet to win one. Of course, there haven't been that many out there over the years. Phil, Bubba, and, hmm, anybody else of note?

What's also interesting is Koepka winning this year's Open makes him the seventh player in a row to be a first time major winner. Be it the Masters, British Open, or PGA, somebody new has been walking off with the title every time. This is great for golf.

It would appear the anti-Tiger age is upon us. No longer is one player so dominant. Even in Woods' heyday, and it was something to behold for a decade or so, Tiger had come along at just the right time.

The old guard of Nicklaus, Player, Palmer, Floyd, Watson, Trevino, and that bunch had aged and were far beyond their primes. By the same token, the horde of young studs like Day, Spieth, Scott, Johnson, McIlroy, Fowler, and THIS bunch had yet to come of age with fully developed golf games.

It seems every week a new face, or three, pops up on tour that can shoot the lights out. In other words, the current competition is FAR more ferocious than anything Eldrick Tont Woods ever faced.

This week it's Brooks Koepka. Next major, or any other tournament, it might very well be somebody else. The game has evolved and is better than ever due to the sheer amount of hot-shot contenders that continue to emerge from all over the planet. And it's not likely to stop any time soon.

Tiger Woods may have rekindled interest in the game after the old stars had faded, but it became boring to watch him dominate weaker fields so much. Then Tiger himself became boorish with his personal behavior, as has been well documented.

In the end, this has worked out very well all around. The players have returned to acting like gentlemen (no club-pounding/cursing, or a caddy that thinks he and his master are royalty while the paying gallery mere peasants), and a wide open competition every week with fields that are well stocked with incredible talent, any of whom could emerge to capture a tournament on any given week.

Seven first time major winners in the last seven such tournaments speaks for itself.

But for now, all hail Brooks Koepka. He's the king of the mountain...... at least until the next tournament.

Let us not forget that the currently ranked #1 golfer in the world -- one Dustin Johnson -- and the defending champion of the US Open -- didn't even make the cut this week. Not even close.

Oh yeah, the competition is brutal out there these days.

And that's a great thing for golf fans.

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