Opening the door to an array of young golfing talent


This year’s U.S. Open was far less dramatic than Dustin Johnson’s defiant win at Oakmont amidst pointless controversy, but it reinforced golf’s theme of the year, featuring yet another new, refreshing winner in Brooks Koepka.

Koepka, a name synonymous with the growth of young talent throughout the sport, managed to shoot scores of 68 and 67 over the weekend to close out his first major championship in style. Many in the golf world had Koepka pegged as a future major winner, and he now has accomplished that task at the tender age of 27.

While we did see a few familiar faces on the leaderboard, the 2017 U.S. Open represented the strength of parity in professional golf, the likes of which has not been seen since before the great Tiger Woods. The leading stars of the sport – Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day – were absent from the board, and McIlroy and Day missed the cut.

I was pleasantly surprised to see more scoring in this year’s trek at Erin Hills, Wisconsin. In fact, Koepka tied the U.S. Open scoring record in relation to par over the weekend.

Not everyone was happy about the course layout and the ease with which the pros scored. Michael Wilbon suggested shortening future tournaments from the tees rather than lengthening the course in order to present the world’s finest with a different kind of challenge.

And then there was Rickie Fowler … another sad defeat for one of golf’s finest young stars. He seems to possess all the necessary tools of a major champion, but he can’t quite finish when it’s time to close out a major. On Friday afternoon Fowler managed to gain the outright lead, but it was short lived after he scored bogey on three straight holes, giving up the lead for good. Skip Bayless weighed in on whether Fowler has the stuff of a champion.

The name to watch going forward is Hideki Matsuyama. The 25-year-old submitted a strong bid to overtake the eventual champion Koepka this past weekend, shooting a closing round of 66 to capture a tie for second place. In order to do so, Matsuyama came all the way back from +2 on Thursday to shoot -7, -1 and -6 to finish at -12.

The rising Japanese star certainly has the firepower to run with the best. Consider him a dark horse for the PGA Championship this year at Quail Hollow.

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