Saturday, September 22nd, 2018 am30 7:31am

Ryder Cup gave Brooks Koepka confidence to withstand pressure


Ryder Cup gave Brooks Koepka confidence to withstand pressure

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American Brooks Koepka captured his first major championship at the U.S. Open after finishing 16 under for the tournament. USA TODAY Sports

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ERIN, Wis. — The back-to-back birdies to start the round were big. So, too, the shot out of the bunker on 14. And that birdie putt on 15 that kept everyone at bay? The definition of clutch.

Truth is, though, Brooks Koepka won his first major back in October.

If not for the crushing pressure of the Ryder Cup, Koepka wouldn’t be the new U.S. Open champion. Keeping your composure — and cushion of a lead — down the stretch will barely cause you to break a sweat after you’ve survived three days’ worth of jangling nerves and stomach in a constant state of free fall.

“The Ryder Cup was the first real taste of true pressure I think I’ve ever felt,” he said after his 4-stroke victory Sunday afternoon at Erin Hills. “And to be honest with you, this week I don’t think I ever got nervous, not at one point. I just stayed in the moment.”

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Indeed, when he made his par putt on 18, he gave only a small fist pump.

It wasn’t until several minutes later, when he was in a golf cart heading back to scoring, that he buried his head in his hands, overcome with the enormity of both what he’d done and what he’d won.

“It’s probably the most emotion I ever showed coming down the stretch,” Koepka said in total seriousness. “It feels amazing to get my name on this trophy with so many other great names. It’s truly an honor.”

Koepka is the seventh consecutive first-timer to win a major, extending a run that started with Jason Day’s win at the 2015 PGA Championship. That the newbie trend would continue was all but a given; Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen were the only major winners to finish in the top 25, and neither was ever a factor Sunday.

To win a major takes talent, of course. But everyone out here has talent. What sets major champions apart is a steely resolve, an ability to block out the moment and all it represents, and will themselves past any distractions.

It sounds easy, but it is anything but when you’ve never done it before.

“I don’t feel as though I lost a golf tournament,” said Brian Harman, who finished in a tie for second. “I think Brooks went out and won the tournament.”

His 5-under 67 was the second-lowest round of the day. He made only one bogey. He missed only one green. His total score of 16-under matched the U.S. Open record set by Rory McIlroy in 2011.

2017 U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills

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Brooks Koepka celebrates his first career major championship

Brooks Koepka celebrates his first career major championship at the U.S. Open.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Brooks Koepka celebrates his first career major championship

Brooks Koepka celebrates his first career major championship at the U.S. Open.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Duties of a champion: Brooks Koepka talks with the

Duties of a champion: Brooks Koepka talks with the media after winning the U.S. Open.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Brooks Koepka celebrates his first career major championship

Brooks Koepka celebrates his first career major championship at the U.S. Open.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Brooks Koepka celebrates after sinking his championship-clinching

Brooks Koepka celebrates after sinking his championship-clinching putt on the 18th hole.  Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
Brooks Koepka lines up his putt on the 18th green during

Brooks Koepka lines up his putt on the 18th green during the final round.  Michael Madrid, USA TODAY Sports
Brian Harman just misses a putt on the 12th hole during

Brian Harman just misses a putt on the 12th hole during the final round.  Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
Charley Hoffman hams it up for the crowd after sinking

Charley Hoffman hams it up for the crowd after sinking a long putt on the 18th hole during the final round.  Michael Madrid, USA TODAY Sports
Steve Stricker plays his approach shot on the eighth

Steve Stricker plays his approach shot on the eighth hole during the final round.  Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
Brooks Koepka waves to the gallery after sinking a

Brooks Koepka waves to the gallery after sinking a birdie putt on the 15th hole during the final round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Brian Harman plays his approach shot on the first hole

Brian Harman plays his approach shot on the first hole during the final round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Brooks Koepka follows his tee shot on the 15th hole

Brooks Koepka follows his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Brooks Koepka blasts out of a bunker on the 14th hole

Brooks Koepka blasts out of a bunker on the 14th hole during the final round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Spieth acknowledges the gallery after finishing

Jordan Spieth acknowledges the gallery after finishing his final round.  Michael Madrid, USA TODAY Sports
Rickie Fowler takes a photo of his coach Butch Harmon

Rickie Fowler takes a photo of his coach Butch Harmon (not pictured) during the final round of the 2017 U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills.  Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA T
Brooks Koepka celebrates a birdie on the eighth hole

Brooks Koepka celebrates a birdie on the eighth hole during the final round.  Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
Brendan Steele chips out of a bunker on the eighth

Brendan Steele chips out of a bunker on the eighth hole during the final round.  Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
Brooks Koepka lines up his putt on the first green

Brooks Koepka lines up his putt on the first green during the final round.  Michael Madrid, USA TODAY Sports
A gets a better look at the action from the grandstand

A gets a better look at the action from the grandstand at the first hole.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Xander Schauffele looks down the fairway before his

Xander Schauffele looks down the fairway before his shot from the first tee during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Sergio Garcia walks up to the first tee during the

Sergio Garcia walks up to the first tee during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Tommy Fleetwood follows his shot from the first tee

Tommy Fleetwood follows his shot from the first tee during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Furyk tees off on the first hole during the final

Jim Furyk tees off on the first hole during the final round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Justin Thomas walks off the first tee during the final

Justin Thomas walks off the first tee during the final round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Brooks Koepka plays his shot from the second tee during

Brooks Koepka plays his shot from the second tee during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Rickie Fowler and Si Woo Kim walk down the first fairway

Rickie Fowler and Si Woo Kim walk down the first fairway during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Spieth lines up his putt on the 18th green during

Jordan Spieth lines up his putt on the 18th green during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Brandt Snedeker plays his shot from the first fairway

Brandt Snedeker plays his shot from the first fairway during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Brehm chips up his shot onto the 18th green during

Ryan Brehm chips up his shot onto the 18th green during the third round.  Michael Madrid, USA TODAY Sports
Rickie Fowler tees off on the first hole during the

Rickie Fowler tees off on the first hole during the third round.  Rick Wood, USA TODAY Sports
Jamie Lovemark reads the first green during the third

Jamie Lovemark reads the first green during the third round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
A plane flies a banner over the course that reads "USGA/LPGA:

A plane flies a banner over the course that reads “USGA/LPGA: Take a Mulligan. Dump Trump” during the third round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
William McGirt plays his shot from sand along the first

William McGirt plays his shot from sand along the first fairway during the third round.  Michael Madrid, USA TODAY Sports
Bill Haas plays his shot out of the first fairway rough

Bill Haas plays his shot out of the first fairway rough during the third round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Johnston waits to hit off the first tee during

Andrew “Beef” Johnston waits to hit off the first tee during the third round.  Mark Hoffman, USA TODAY Sports
Sergio Garcia plays his shot out of the rough on the

Sergio Garcia plays his shot out of the rough on the 1st fairway during the third round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Jaeger reacts to his shot from the seventh

Stephan Jaeger reacts to his shot from the seventh tee during the third round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Spieth and Stephan Jaeger walk off the seventh

Jordan Spieth and Stephan Jaeger walk off the seventh tee during the third round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Scottie Scheffler plays his shot from the first tee

Scottie Scheffler plays his shot from the first tee during the third round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Matt Kuchar reads the greens for his putt on the ninth

Matt Kuchar reads the greens for his putt on the ninth hole during the third round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Zach Johnson waves to the gallery after his birdie

Zach Johnson waves to the gallery after his birdie putt on the ninth green during the third round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Course workers dump bucket loads of chips to cover

Course workers dump bucket loads of chips to cover wet areas of the gallery after overnight rains during the third round.  Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Casey watches his shot on the 18th fairway during

Paul Casey watches his shot on the 18th fairway during the second round of the U.S. Open. Casey finished the day tied for the lead at 7 under par.  Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
Brooks Koepka plays his shot on the fourth hole during

Brooks Koepka plays his shot on the fourth hole during the second round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Hartford, Wis.  Andrew Redington, Getty Images
Rickie Fowler plays his shot on the 14th hole during

Rickie Fowler plays his shot on the 14th hole during the second round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills.  Streeter Lecka, Getty Images
Brooks Koepka putts on the first green during the second

Brooks Koepka putts on the first green during the second round of the U.S. Open.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Tommy Fleetwood lines up a shot on the 12th hole during

Tommy Fleetwood lines up a shot on the 12th hole during the second round of the 2017 U.S. Open.  Gregory Shamus, Getty Images
Brooks Koepka and caddie Richard Elliott lines up a

Brooks Koepka and caddie Richard Elliott lines up a putt on the 17th green during the second round of the 2017 U.S. Open.  Andrew Redington, Getty Images
Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm putt

Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm putt on the third green during the second round of the 2017 U.S. Open.  Richard Heathcote, Getty Images
Rory McIlroy walks off the 18th green during the second

Rory McIlroy walks off the 18th green during the second round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Paul Casey and his caddie look over the eighteenth

Paul Casey and his caddie look over the eighteenth fairway during the second round.  Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
Richie Ramsay lines up a putt on the eighth green during

Richie Ramsay lines up a putt on the eighth green during the second round.  Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
Sandhill cranes feed along the 12th tee area during

Sandhill cranes feed along the 12th tee area during the second round.  Michael Madrid, USA TODAY Sports
Ground squirrels pop out of a burrow along the edge

Ground squirrels pop out of a burrow along the edge of the 9th green during the second round.  Michael Madrid, USA TODAY Sports
Mason Andersen chips up out of the high grass onto

Mason Andersen chips up out of the high grass onto the 11th green during the second round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Na pitches up onto the 8th green during the second

Kevin Na pitches up onto the 8th green during the second round.  Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
Sergio Garcia plays his shot from the 12th tee during

Sergio Garcia plays his shot from the 12th tee during the second round.  Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
Sandhill cranes make their way through the 12th hole

Sandhill cranes make their way through the 12th hole feeding during the second round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Bryson DeChambeau of the United States plays his shot

Bryson DeChambeau of the United States plays his shot from the second tee during the second round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 16.  Richard Heathcote, Getty Images
Bubba Watson and Sergio Garcia greet each other on

Bubba Watson and Sergio Garcia greet each other on the tenth tee during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Casey waits on the tenth tee during the second

Paul Casey waits on the tenth tee during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Summerhays of the United States and caddie Nickolas

Daniel Summerhays of the United States and caddie Nickolas Jones walk off the fifth tee during the second round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 16.  Jamie Squire, Getty Images
Henrik Stenson of Sweden plays his shot from the tenth

Henrik Stenson of Sweden plays his shot from the tenth tee during the second round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 16.  Richard Heathcote, Getty Images
Kevin Na of the United States plays his shot on the

Kevin Na of the United States plays his shot on the fourth hole during the second round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 16.  Jamie Squire, Getty Images
Rory McIlroy waves to the gallery on the ninth green

Rory McIlroy waves to the gallery on the ninth green during the first round.  Michael Madrid, USA TODAY Sports
Paul Casey follows his tee shot off the fourth tee

Paul Casey follows his tee shot off the fourth tee box during the first round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Sergio Garcia plays his shot from the 15th tee during

Sergio Garcia plays his shot from the 15th tee during the first round.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Rickie Fowler shot a 7-under-par 65 in the first round

Rickie Fowler shot a 7-under-par 65 in the first round to take the early lead at the 2017 U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills on June 15.  Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Bud Cauley reacts to his putt on the 9th green during

Bud Cauley reacts to his putt on the 9th green during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Jamie Lovemark plays out of the rough on the 8th fairway

Jamie Lovemark plays out of the rough on the 8th fairway during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Martin Kaymer acknowledges the crowd after a birdie

Martin Kaymer acknowledges the crowd after a birdie on the 10th hole the during the opening round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 15.  Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Allison Stokke and Rickie Fowler walk off the course

Allison Stokke and Rickie Fowler walk off the course during the first round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 15.  Jamie Squire, Getty Images
Tommy Fleetwood chips out of a bunker on the 8th green

Tommy Fleetwood chips out of a bunker on the 8th green during the first round of the U.S. Open on June 15 at Erin Hills.  Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm are applauded

Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm are applauded as they walk on the 9th green during the first round of the U.S. Open on June 15 at Erin Hills. Fowler finished with a 7-under-par 65.  Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Webb Simpson of the United States plays his shot from

Webb Simpson of the United States plays his shot from the tenth tee during the first round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 15.  Jamie Squire, Getty Images
Dustin Johnson chips up onto the 17th green from the

Dustin Johnson chips up onto the 17th green from the tall grass during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Michael Madrid, Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Reed chips up onto the 17th green during the

Patrick Reed chips up onto the 17th green during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 15.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
A scoreboard worker looks on from the 17th green during

A scoreboard worker looks on from the 17th green during the first round of the U.S. Open.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Rickie Fowler plays his shot from the second tee during

Rickie Fowler plays his shot from the second tee during the first round of the U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 15.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Brandt Snedeker walks onto the 12th green during the

Brandt Snedeker walks onto the 12th green during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 15.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Geese feed near the 9th green during the first round

Geese feed near the 9th green during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 15.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
A blimp appears to crash during the first round of

A blimp appears to crash during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament June 15 at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis.  Charlie Riedel, AP
Ernie Els plays his shot from the fifth tee during

Ernie Els plays his shot from the fifth tee during the first round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 15. He had four birdies on the front nine to climb the leaderboard.  Andrew Redington, Getty Images
Spectators watch from grandstands overlooking the 1st

Spectators watch from grandstands overlooking the 1st tee during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Tommy Fleetwood lines up his putt on the 17th green

Tommy Fleetwood lines up his putt on the 17th green during the first round of the U.S. Open on June 15.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Rickie Fowler plays his shot from the tenth tee during

Rickie Fowler plays his shot from the tenth tee during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 15.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Russell Knox , Martin Laird and Scott Gregory walk

Russell Knox , Martin Laird and Scott Gregory walk off the 1st tee during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 15.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Ross Fisher looks over his putt on the 12th green during

Ross Fisher looks over his putt on the 12th green during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 15.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Brice Garnett flips his putter after missing a putt

Brice Garnett flips his putter after missing a putt on the 12th green during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Davis Love IV gets a fist bump from his dad and caddie

Davis Love IV gets a fist bump from his dad and caddie Davis Love III (left) on the 12th green during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 15.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Spieth drives off the 12th tee box during the

Jordan Spieth drives off the 12th tee box during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 15.  Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Martin Laird, of Scotland, hits from a bunker on the

Martin Laird, of Scotland, hits from a bunker on the seventh hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament June 15.  Charlie Riedel, AP
Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed walk off the tenth tee

Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed walk off the tenth tee during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 15.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Bud Cauley of the United States plays his shot on the

Bud Cauley of the United States plays his shot on the 12th hole during the first round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 15.  Streeter Lecka, Getty Images
Hideki Matsuyama heads up to the 13th tee during the

Hideki Matsuyama heads up to the 13th tee during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 15.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Rahm plays his shot from the 12th fairway during

Jon Rahm plays his shot from the 12th fairway during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 15.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Kuchar plays his shot from the tenth tee during

Matt Kuchar plays his shot from the tenth tee during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Fans stand near the 10th hole during the first round

Fans stand near the 10th hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Thursday, June 15 at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis.  David J. Phillip, AP
Dustin Johnson follows his shot from the tenth tee

Dustin Johnson follows his shot from the tenth tee during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 15.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Graeme McDowell waves to the crowd before starting

Graeme McDowell waves to the crowd before starting off the 10th tee during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 15.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Sergio Garcia punches out of the sand onto the ninth

Sergio Garcia punches out of the sand onto the ninth green during a practice round on Wednesday.  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Spieth walks off the 13th tee during a practice

Jordan Spieth walks off the 13th tee during a practice round on Wednesday.  Michael Madrid, USA TODAY Sports
Rickie Fowler plays his shot from the eighth tee during

Rickie Fowler plays his shot from the eighth tee during a practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 14.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Thomas on the 8th hole during a practice round

Justin Thomas on the 8th hole during a practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 14.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Carrie Gale (left), of Oshkosh, and her mother Julie

Carrie Gale (left), of Oshkosh, and her mother Julie Peteri, from Chenequa, Wis., both hole marshals, find a shade tree on the 15th hole during the first round of the U.S. Open at Erin Hills.  Mike De Sisti, USA TODAY NETWORK
Rickie Fowler (left) and Jimmy Walker walk up the 8th

Rickie Fowler (left) and Jimmy Walker walk up the 8th fairway during a practice round of the U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 14.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Perez of the United States plays his shot during

Pat Perez of the United States plays his shot during a practice round prior to the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 14.  Richard Heathcote, Getty Images
Jun 13, 2017; Erin, WI, Sergio Garcia pitches up onto

Jun 13, 2017; Erin, WI, Sergio Garcia pitches up onto the 18th green during a practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 13.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Hideto Tanihara signs autographs behind the 17th green

Hideto Tanihara signs autographs behind the 17th green during a practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills.  Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Dustin Johnson looks down the first fairway from the

Dustin Johnson looks down the first fairway from the tee box during a practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 13.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Sergio Garcia practices at the range during a practice

Sergio Garcia practices at the range during a practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 13.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Adam Hadwin hits off the first tee during practice

Adam Hadwin hits off the first tee during practice rounds for the U.S. Open on Tuesday.  Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA T
Grounds crew members work on the fourth hole during

Grounds crew members work on the fourth hole during a practice round prior to the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 13.  Ross Kinnaird, Getty Images
Amateur Mason Andersen, 18, and an incoming freshman

Amateur Mason Andersen, 18, and an incoming freshman at Arizona State University, hits an approach shot on the 18th hole during practice rounds on Tuesday.  Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA T
Afternoon crowds picked up after morning storms during

Afternoon crowds picked up after morning storms during practice rounds on Tuesday.  Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA T
Bryson DeChambeau shags a ball to the right during

Bryson DeChambeau shags a ball to the right during bunker practice on the ninth green on Tuesday.  Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA T
Matthew Fitzpatrick has his reflection reflected in

Matthew Fitzpatrick has his reflection reflected in his driver as he warms up at the driving range before his practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 13.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Golf spectators watch players warm up at the range

Golf spectators watch players warm up at the range during a practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 13.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Nate Lauber , of Fon Du Lac, Wisc., sports an "Only

Nate Lauber , of Fon Du Lac, Wisc., sports an “Only in Wisconsin” hat while walking around the course during a practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 13.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
At Erin Hills, shoppers can find cheese-head golf ducks

At Erin Hills, shoppers can find cheese-head golf ducks for sale at the merchandise tent during the opening practice round of the U.S. Open on June 12.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Fitzpatrick walks down the hill to the practice

Matthew Fitzpatrick walks down the hill to the practice range before his practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 13.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
A light steady rain falls during practice rounds for

A light steady rain falls during practice rounds for the U.S. Open golf tournament June 13 at Erin Hills.  Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Jordan Spieth chips his ball out of the tall fescue

Jordan Spieth chips his ball out of the tall fescue and lands within 4 feet of the cup on this shot on the the 8th hole. He said he was limiting his play as his allergies were flaring up during the first day of practice for the 2017 U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills on June 12.  Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Aiden Knight, 5, of River Hills, Wis., watches golfers

Aiden Knight, 5, of River Hills, Wis., watches golfers on the practice green. He has golf clubs of his own and was enjoying the action during the first day of practice for the 2017 U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills on June 12.  Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Spectators seek shade under the tree along the 18th

Spectators seek shade under the tree along the 18th fairway during the opening practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 12.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Flannigan chips out of the bunker on the 9th green

Nick Flannigan chips out of the bunker on the 9th green during the first day of practice for the 2017 U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills on June 12.  Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Jon Rahm signs autographs during a practice round of

Jon Rahm signs autographs during a practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 12.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Spieth drives off the 5th tee box during the

Jordan Spieth drives off the 5th tee box during the opening practice round of the U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 12.  Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
A view of the top of the U.S. Open Championship Trophy

A view of the top of the U.S. Open Championship Trophy seen in the Lexus fan experience during the opening practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 12.  Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Stricker blasts out of the sand onto the second

Steve Stricker blasts out of the sand onto the second green during the opening practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 12.  Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Alexander Noren of Sweden and Martin Kaymer of Germany

Alexander Noren of Sweden and Martin Kaymer of Germany look for a ball on the 17th hole during a practice round prior to the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 12.  Jamie Squire, Getty Images
Rory McIlroy follows his tee shot off the 9th tee box

Rory McIlroy follows his tee shot off the 9th tee box during the opening practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 12.  Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Spieth (left) and Steve Stricker walk off the

Jordan Spieth (left) and Steve Stricker walk off the 1st tee during the opening practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 12.  Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Furyk drives off the 1st tee during the opening

Jim Furyk drives off the 1st tee during the opening practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 12.  Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Canadian geese waddle along the first fairway during

Canadian geese waddle along the first fairway during the opening practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 12.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Golfers drive to the 18th green with Holy Hill in background

Golfers drive to the 18th green with Holy Hill in background during the U.S. Open media day at Erin Hills, on May 17, 2017. The U.S. Open will be held at Erin Hills the week of June 12-18.  Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Kevin Na signs autographs off the 18th hole during

Kevin Na signs autographs off the 18th hole during the opening practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 12.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Rory McIlroy walks up the path towards the 6th tee

Rory McIlroy walks up the path towards the 6th tee during the opening practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on June 12.  Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

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Koepka had already won on the PGA Tour, along with a handful of victories in Europe and Asia. But a major is a completely different beast. You are leaving a mark in history, your name forever joined with Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods.

The magnitude of such a moment can be overwhelming. Look at Justin Thomas, who got flustered when a gust of wind on the No. 4 green blew his ball 4 feet back from the hole. He made bogeys on consecutive holes and was never a factor again.

Harman had not bogeyed a hole on the back nine all week until he drove into a tangle of fescue on the 12th. He would miss his par putts on both 12 and 13, along with one on 18 that would have given him sole possession of second place.

Hideki Matsuyama, Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Charley Hoffman — each had his chance and each one faltered.

“I’ve never contended for a major before. So when you get to Saturday and Sunday, you’ve got to see how you react and how you feel,” Fleetwood said.

But Koepka already knew how he’d feel because of the Ryder Cup.

It’s never easy to be a rookie at the Ryder Cup, a fevered international competition. Even less so last year, as the Americans tried to win the Cup back for the first time since 2008.

Koepka talked of being so nervous he worried about keeping his ball on the tee. Yet he exuded a calm swagger, and wound up as one of the most productive Americans. He collected three points from four matches, including a 5&4 rout of Masters champion Danny Willett.

The confidence he drew from that, along with strong showings at other majors, separated him from the pack as much as his booming drives and precision on the greens.

“It’s the basic answer of just staying one shot at a time,” Koepka said. “I was not thinking about anything else out there. I wasn’t thinking anything other than the shot I just had or was about to hit.

“One more good shot. One more good shot,” Koepka added. “And that was kind of all we talked about all week. It sounds pretty boring, but it’s the truth.”

Koepka’s performance at the Ryder Cup helped the Americans win the coveted trophy. Eight months later, it helped him win one of his own.

***

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.

U.S. Open winners since 1995

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2017 — Brooks Koepka (Erin Hills)

2017 — Brooks Koepka (Erin Hills)  Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports
2016 — Dustin Johnson (Oakmont Country Club)

2016 — Dustin Johnson (Oakmont Country Club)  John David Mercer, USA TODAY Sports
2015 — Jordan Spieth (Chambers Bay)

2015 — Jordan Spieth (Chambers Bay)  Michael Madrid, USA TODAY Sports
2014 — Martin Kaymer (Pinehurst Resort)

2014 — Martin Kaymer (Pinehurst Resort)  Kevin Liles, USA TODAY Sports
2013 — Justin Rose (Merion Golf Club)

2013 — Justin Rose (Merion Golf Club)  John David Mercer, USA TODAY Sports
2012 — Webb Simpson (Olympic Club)

2012 — Webb Simpson (Olympic Club)  Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports
2011 — Rory McIlroy (Congressional Country Club)

2011 — Rory McIlroy (Congressional Country Club)  H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY Sports
2010 — Graeme McDowell (Pebble Beach)

2010 — Graeme McDowell (Pebble Beach)  Eric Risberg, AP
2009 — Lucas Glover (Bethpage Black)

2009 — Lucas Glover (Bethpage Black)  Chris Faytok, The Star-Ledger via USA TODAY Sports
2008 — Tiger Woods (Torrey Pines)

2008 — Tiger Woods (Torrey Pines)  Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports
2007 — Angel Cabrera (Oakmont Country Club)

2007 — Angel Cabrera (Oakmont Country Club)  Charles Krupa, AP
2006 — Geoff Ogilvy (Winged Foot)

2006 — Geoff Ogilvy (Winged Foot)  Mark Vergari, The Journal News
2005 — Michael Campbell (Pinehurst Resort)

2005 — Michael Campbell (Pinehurst Resort)  Ross Kinnaird, Getty Images
2004 — Retief Goosen (Shinnecock Hills)

2004 — Retief Goosen (Shinnecock Hills)  Charles Krupa, AP
2003 — Jim Furyk (Olympia Fields)

2003 — Jim Furyk (Olympia Fields)  Morray Gash, AP
2002 — Tiger Woods (Bethpage Black)

2002 — Tiger Woods (Bethpage Black)  Timothy A. Clary, AFP
2001 — Retief Goosen (Southern Hills)

2001 — Retief Goosen (Southern Hills)  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY Sports
2000 — Tiger Woods (Pebble Beach)

2000 — Tiger Woods (Pebble Beach)  Elise Amendola, AP
1999 — Payne Stewart (Pinehurst Resort)

1999 — Payne Stewart (Pinehurst Resort)  Bob Jordan, AP
1998 — Lee Janzen (Olympic Club)

1998 — Lee Janzen (Olympic Club)  Timothy A. Clary, AFP/Getty Images
1997 — Ernie Els (Congressional Country Club)

1997 — Ernie Els (Congressional Country Club)  Doug Mills, AP
1996 — Steve Jones (Oakland Hills)

1996 — Steve Jones (Oakland Hills)  Mark Duncan, AP

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