SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (Reuters) - Brooks Koepka has grown used to people underestimating him, but after flying under the radar to win a second straight U.S. Open title he would not have it any other way.
Koepka’s four-stroke triumph at Erin Hills in Wisconsin last year was almost lost amid talk of how the course had been too easy for a championship that has traditionally been golf’s toughest challenge.
But on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, Koepka showed he has the game to handle any test, prevailing by a stroke on a course with punishing rough and firm greens.
“I always feel like I’m overlooked,” Koepka said.
“It doesn’t bug me. I just kind of keep doing what I’m doing, keep plugging away, kind of hide behind closed doors sometimes, which is nice, kind of the way I’d like to keep it.
“Everyone said Erin Hills was set up for me. It was set up for a lot of guys that bomb the ball. I just happened to play a little bit better that week.”This week is just back to a typical U.S. Open, where one over par wins. It’s just a lot of grinding. But I couldn’t be happier with the way I played.”
The 28-year-old said the U.S. Open particularly suited him, both in terms of how his game lends itself to the championship and the physical and mental demands it places on golfers.
“U.S. Open just takes so much discipline,” he said. “You have got to be a great putter and just kind of let things roll off your back.
“I enjoy being pushed to the limit. Sometimes you feel like you are about to break mentally, but that’s what I enjoy. I enjoy hard golf courses, playing about the toughest in golf you are ever going to play.”
After becoming the first player to successfully defend the U.S. Open since Curtis Strange in 1988-89, Koepka will jump from ninth to fourth in the world rankings.
Next June at Pebble Beach, he will have the chance to become just the second player after Willie Anderson (1903-05) to win three straight U.S. Opens.
But for now, Koepka is just happy to see his name engraved on the trophy for a second time.
“To have my name on it twice is pretty incredible, and to go back-to-back is even more extraordinary,” Koepka said.
“This one’s a lot sweeter.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford