It is the style of professional golf these days that all the introductions are needed at the end of the big tournaments.
Your majors begin with attention focused on the usual suspects, your top-ranked corporate darlings with some impressive credentials already tucked away in their bags. And then end requiring plenty of informational backfill explaining how someone just won his first title that was not named after a bank, an insurer, a car or a trash collector.
One more time: World meet Brooks Koepka, the 2017 U.S. Open winner.
That’s Koepka, not Kafka – although that’s one scorecard I’d love to read.
A FSU Seminole. A big hitter. A former Waste Management Phoenix Open winner. One of those rare players who looks like he has sleep-overs in the PGA Tour’s fitness trailer.
For a seventh straight major, a first-timer wrapped his callow hands around the trophy. Every major these days is a maiden race. Must say something about how country clubs are churning out talent like Hersey’s does Kisses. Parity is not just a NFL thing.
Not a particularly good trend for those who prefer their golf defined by just a few faces they care to consign to memory. The fans of a Big Three – or fill in some manageable number of your choosing – have been disoriented lately. In this Open, for instance, the World’s top three-ranked players – Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy – went on a picnic in the Erin Hills overgrowth and went missing on the weekend.
There were plenty of other major championship virgins auditioning for their big moment Sunday.
Most notable was former Bulldog and Lilliputian lefthander Brian Harman. For long stretches, he played like an off-handed Ben Hogan – only even more compact and somewhat less decorated. From different twosomes, he and Koepka staged a study in the human body types. Harman spotted Koepka at least five inches, 35 pounds. On a day when Koepka overpowered this hay fever heaven with a final round 67 and equaled McIlroy’s 72-hole U.S. Open scoring record, the Bulldog was arm-wrestling out of his class.
Everyone’s favorite orange creamsicle, Rickie Fowler, stayed around long enough to entertain us with his daring fashion sense.
Charlie Hoffman gained the distinction of making himself a nuisance in both the Masters and the Open thus far in ’17.
Quicker than you can say Xander Schauffele – T5 in this U.S. Open – golf got so very democratic. You are just going to have to work harder at being a golf fan, learning all these other names and faces. Seems the contender list here in the heart of major golf season is, like the universe itself, ever-expanding.
Unfazed Sunday by this distinctive course’s amber waves of angst, Koepka, 27, would seem to be of an age and a skill set to make himself far more famous in his chosen field. You might wish to pay him further attention.
But know that his competition is vast.