Brooks Koepka flew under the radar to steal US Open show

This Shinnecock U.S. Open wasn’t defined by one particular shot or hole that will go down in golf history like the previous two played at the venerable links on Eastern Long Island.

It will not be remembered for a shot-heard-’round-the-world like in 1995 with Corey Pavin’s clinching 4-wood from the fairway on the 72nd hole to stave off Greg Norman.

It will not be remembered for the critical tournament-turning goings on at a particular hole, as the par-3 17th was in 2004, when Phil Mickelson double-bogeyed it from the bunker to lose the lead and open the door for Retief Goosen to win his second U.S. Open.

This Shinnecock U.S. Open will forever be remembered for the calm, cool, clinical display that Brooks Koepka delivered in Sunday’s final round with the end result of the tournament teetering precariously on the brink all day.

Want to know why Koepka became the first player to defend his U.S. Open title since Curtis Strange did it in 1988 and ’89?

Ask his stepmother.

“I think he has the perfect demeanor for what he does,’’ Sherry Koepka said.

If you don’t think she’s expert enough on the topic, then ask Koepka’s coach, Claude Harmon, who also happens to coach Dustin Johnson, the No. 1-ranked player in the world and one of Koepka’s closest friends.

“If you could design what this U.S. Open test throws at you, Brooks is the player for it,” Harmon said. “This championship is perfect for what he does and how he plays. Nothing bothers him. He’s able to not get too high or too low. You saw his guts and determination today.’’

Yes, we did.

Kopeka was 7-over at one point midway through his second round Friday and in danger of not making the cut, which eventually landed on 8-over.

“I never felt like I was out of it,” Koepka said. “I just kept going because I always felt like I had a chance.”

Koepka, in a similar way to his close friend Johnson, with whom he was paired Sunday, has the perfect, even-keel, unaffected personality for U.S. Opens, which throw a lot of stuff at you — well evidenced by the nonsense the USGA produced with its Mickey Mouse third-round course setup Saturday.

Many of the players railed on about the USGA’s setup. You never heard a peep out of Koepka. He was too busy keeping his head down quietly grinding out his second U.S. Open title in a row.

Tony Finau, who entered the day tied for the lead, played in the final pairing and ended up losing by four shots, marveled at Keopka’s performance.

“When I looked up at the scoreboard, I was just chasing him all day,” Finau said. “Incredible player. The way he can strike a golf ball is incredible, honestly. He’s playing with a lot of confidence. He definitely played like the champion this week.”

Keopka’s pairing with Johnson helped.

“I think it was a really good pairing for him because they’re buddies and they want to beat each other,” Harmon said. “DJ is No. 1 in the world and arguably the biggest player in our sport right now, and Brooks sees that as motivation because that’s where he wants to get to. He firmly believes he can do things in his career to get to No. 1 in the world.”

More motivation for Koepka?

“He’s so overlooked he wasn’t even mentioned in the ‘notables’ page on the Golf Channel recap Thursday as the defending champion,” Harmon said. “He uses that as motivation. He’s always said, ‘I’m going to let my clubs do the talking,’ and he’s done such a good job of that.”

Koepka: “I always feel like I’m overlooked. I could care less. It doesn’t bug me. I just kind of keep doing what I’m doing, keep plugging away, kind of hide behind closed doors sometimes, which is nice, kind of the way I’d like to keep it.’’

In line with that theme, after he won Sunday, Keopka declined the PGA Tour’s request to do a New York City media tour, something most major champions do. He did the same thing after he won the U.S. Open last year, reasoning that it’s not his style.

His style Sunday, though, was perfect.

Copyrighted By nypost.com. Source

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