Koepka follows DJ blueprint to U.S. Open dominance

by
Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Clad in fitted pants and a slim polo that stuck to his bulging biceps like it was painted on, the leader pounded one high-cut after another into the fairway to pull away from the field and capture his first career major championship at the U.S. Open.

The massive distance between majestic shots was covered with a walk that was reminiscent of the best gun-fighter in the Wild West, a cool customer that didn't seem bothered one bit by the magnitude of the moment.

Most people would assume the above description applies to Dustin Johnson's dramatic win last year at the U.S. Open, but Brooks Koepka showed on Sunday that there's a new deputy joining the Sheriff atop the golfing world.

The two are close friends, residing in the same region of south Florida and share the same trainer. The way Koepka attacked Erin Hills with a record-tying 16-under total, it was easy to see how his relationship with Johnson may have played a part.

"We're super close," Koepka told Golf Digest. "We train just about every day together, and talk about the mentality of winning. He's been a great mentor and one of my best friends and being able to watch him over the past year-and-a-half has helped me because I realize the work that needs to be done to be No. 1."

Consider the education complete, and the rest of the Tour is starting to take notice after this week's masterpiece.

"He's got a lot of Dustin Johnson in him, just long and straight and he's going to overpower golf courses," Bill Haas said afterwards. "He's got a great demeanor, he's just like Dustin I would say, they're a very similar player, nothing seems to bother them. It's no surprise, you watch him hit it, it's a little different then most of us out here."

Johnson and Koepka have as much swag as anybody on Tour, with a chill demeanor that rarely shifts regardless of result. Johnson showed the benefit of that last year in overcoming an absurd ruling that saw him docked two strokes after the round. Koepka never wavered throughout Sunday's round, striding confidently down each fairway, and casually fist-pumping each of the six birdies he rolled in.

Much like Johnson does on a weekly basis, Koepka doesn't just play a golf course, he beats the snot out of it. He finished with a 322-yard average off the tee for the week at Erin Hills, and punctuated his win by absolutely melting a 378-yard tee ball on the 72nd hole with a 3-wood. That wasn't a typo - he actually hit a 3-wood further than any player hit driver Sunday on the par-5 18th.

Thanks to his crazy-long game off the tee, Koepka was faced with no more than a 7-iron into the par-4s this week, a large reason for him leading the field in greens-in-regulation.

Johnson missed the cut this week, but Koepka picked up the slack and kept the U.S. Open trophy in the brotherhood for another year. If this week was any indication, that might become a very full trophy case in the near future for the bash brothers of the golfing world.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)