ERIN , Wis. — The 117th US Open marked the first time since 1994 that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were both absent from a major championship, and guess what? They weren’t missed.
Tiger has a bad back and Phil was at his daughter’s graduation, leaving America’s national championship to fend for itself. There was a time when their presence overshadowed just about everyone else and God forbid if neither was in contention on Sunday. It meant certain death for television ratings.
Truth is the sport has been in transition from their era of dominance for a while now. On Sunday, Brooks Koepka provided the exclamation point.
If you don’t follow golf, you probably didn’t recognize the names on the leaderboard Sunday. With Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day failing to make the cut, the list of contenders was filled with players looking to become the seventh straight first-time major winner. And that’s not a bad thing.
We’ve been waiting to see who will be the next Tiger Woods. Quite frankly, we’d better get accustomed to the fact that may never happen, not with the depth and the talent that was on display this weekend, and especially on Sunday when the wind finally arrived just in time to make Erin Hills play like its architects envisioned.
With gusts up to 25 mph and the greens slick as glass, it became a true test of survival that ended with Koepka taking control with three birdies on 14, 15 and 16. His 5-under par 67 gave him a winning total of 16-under par, tying the lowest 72-hole score in relation to par in US Open history.
“I played really solid from the moment I got here,” Koepka said. “All around my game was pretty solid, and I couldn’t be happier.”
It was a terrific final round with a bevy of young players trying to prove they had what it takes to win a major. There was Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, shooting a 6-under par 66 to post…