Koepka's round of 72 was the best from anyone in the last seven groups and the 28-year-old is confident he can become the first back-to-back victor of the US Open since Curtis Strange in 1989. Two holes later, after another drive into grass so thick he wasn't sure he could get it out, Koepka rolled in an 8-foot for another par save.
Curtis Strange stood by the 18th green at Shinnecock Hills, working for the TV broadcast and ready to welcome Brooks Koepka into the small fraternity of back-to-back U.S. Open winners. Today is proof you never know what this game is going to bring around.
"I'd say it's a little bit over the line", Henrik Stenson said after shooting a 74 despite being "pretty happy with the way I played today". I'm at a loss for words right now, but it's really incredible. "He's able to dismiss whatever has happened before nearly instantly", he added. There will be other days, other huge wins for the 33-year-old superstar.
"How many more he wins, we don't know".
And with a cool head and a hot putter, he didn't give anyone a chance down the stretch Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.
The victory - and first prize of $2.16 million - is another chapter in the remarkable tale of a young multi-sport athlete in the USA who moved into golf following a serious auto crash and then learned his trade traveling around Europe and beyond on the second-tier Challenge Tour.
Koepka's win snapped a streak of nine first-time major winners out of the previous 10 events and means Americans have won the last five majors.
Koepka ranked among the best in the field in approach shots to the green at the U.S. Open. He made a 6-footer for par on No. 12, and after hacking out of deep rough on the par-4 14th hole, he got up and down from 62 yards out, holing an 8½-footer for par to maintain his one-stroke edge. At that time, I just didn't feel like going back and forth and hitting the same shot over. "It was something I didn't think I could do from where I was".
Thornberry battled the course on Thursday and ended the day at 6 over, just 7 shots from the leader, Dustin Johnson who sat at 1 under after the first round.
The 2016 victor of the major was almost joined by England's Ian Poulter, who achieved three birdies in four holes on the back nine of the course.
A par would have tied him for third, while a simple bogey would have put him in a tie for fourth. It's hard to look at just one shot but I have beaten everybody but one player in one of the biggest events in the world. He finished his round as Koepka was finishing up the par-3 seventh. It's amusing though, when you finish, you always feel like you're going to be just short [of winning]. We're extremely close. I love the guy to death. "It was a different course on the back nine and really just became kind of who could survive and get through the day". I just needed to keep grinding.