Best player on the planet?
The 118th U.S. Open trophy tells us it is Brooks Koepka.
The 117th U.S. Open trophy told us he was really good but this one says a lot more.
Koepka was the best man at Shinneock Hills on a testy Sunday afternoon, a kinder day than Sinister Saturday.
Sinister Saturday reached in and tore the heart out of Dustin Johnson, who is supposed to be the best player on the planet according to Paul Azinger, who called him that at least 50 times over the four days that Fox Sports wore thin on viewers.
Truth be known, today, right now Koepka is The Man. Back-to-back U.S. Opens make a great case. World ranking algorithms do not.
Brooks did what D.J. couldn’t on Sunday afternoon.
He survived a four-way tie at day’s start. He survived a front-nine run by Patrick Reed and the run of a lifetime by Tommy Fleetwood, who came within eight feet of rewriting the record books.
Most of all, he survived the 11th hole where he made a save to remember. He missed the green way left and things looked dismal. Koepka explained his predicament:
“It was really interesting, I mean, I’ve always been a really good putter. We made some clutch par saves but I think the one that really was massive for us was No. 11. To be honest with you, from where it was, I would have taken double. Definitely would have taken bogey. I think that was like making a birdie, maybe even making an eagle it felt like because it could have been a big momentum shift there, and we could have been playing tennis just going back and forth. To make bogey there was pretty incredible and I think kind of the reason why we won.”
What happened on that 159-yard hole was mind-boggling. Koepka pulled a wedge badly, way left on the 159-yard hole. Hit his second went into the bunker on the other side of the green. His blast left him 13 feet for bogey and he drained it. It was that moment that most likely won it as he testified.
He made nice saves at 12 and 14.
Truth be known, Dustin Johnson’s putter left the property on Friday. Perhaps it stowed away on Tiger Woods’ yacht. D.J. took more than 70 putts the final two rounds. Best player on the planet doesn’t do that.
When you stand Koepka and Johnson side-by-side, Brooks can match him with power, accuracy and short game. Putting? Advantage Koepka, who played well enough coming to Shinnecock that he declared: “No one here is more confident than me.”
Wonder where his confidence level is now?
Most timely birdie of the day came at 16 — gave Brooks a two shot lead that he carried to 18. He’d need it.
A hooked second forced him to hit a nice recovery and he did — 13 feet with two putts to glory.
One-over par did the job, edging the 63-shooting Fleetwood by a shot.
With the trophy in hand, he could finally exhale and declare:
“It sounds incredible. To be honest with you, probably couldn’t have dreamed of it in my wildest dreams. I’m at a loss for words right now, but it’s really incredible. I mean, I couldn’t be happier. We grinded our tail off this week to come back from 7-over and do what we did. It was pretty special.”
Special? How about epic?
This guy is the real deal and if you ranked them today, he’s Number One.
Forget the rankings.
Right now Koepka’s the best out there.
The trophy says so.