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Monday, June 19, 2017

The Limerick Summary: 2017 US Open

Winner: Brooks Koepka

Around the wider world of golf: Brooke Henderson won the Meijer LPGA Classic on the LPGA; Aaron Wise won the Air Capital Classic on the Web.com Tour; Robby Shelton won the GolfBC Championship on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada; Jared Wolfe won the BMW Jamaica Classic on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica; Chorphaka Jaengkit won the Decatur-Forsyth Classic on the Symetra Tour; Nicholas Fung won the Queen’s Cup on the Asian Tour; and Teresa Lu won the Nichirei Ladies on the JLPGA (bangkokbobby has details).

Brooks Koepka hoists US Open trophy

While the announcers kept talking about how Brooks had only one PGA Tour win, Brooks actually had a fairly large number of pro wins before Sunday. He had one on the ET, one on the Japan Tour, four on the Challenge Tour (the ET's version of the Web.com Tour) and, of course, one PGA Tour win. That's a total of SEVEN professional wins from all over the world, in all kinds of conditions.

Add in his 2016 Ryder Cup appearance, and it's pretty clear that Brooks Koepka was much more prepared to win a major than most folks believed.

It's that worldwide experience that gave him the tools he needed on Sunday. Everybody will focus on Brooks's prodigious length off the tee, but it might surprise you to learn that his length wasn't as important as most think. I pulled up the US Open stats for Brooks, runner-up Hideki Matsuyama and third-place finisher Brian Harman for comparison. (In case you don't know, weekly stats are available for all players in PGA Tour events by clicking their names on the leaderboard and choosing the "Full Scorecard" option.)

What I found is eye-opening. While the Driving Distance stat did show Brooks as the longest, it wasn't as great an advantage as you might think. For the week, Brooks averaged 322 yards, Hideki 308 and Brian 296. However, the telling stats are Driving Accuracy and GIR. For the week, it looked like this (the numbers in parentheses are their rankings in the field):
  • Harmon -- DA 80.36% (T22), GIR 77.78% (T7)
  • Hideki -- DA 76.79% (T37) , GIR 66.67% (T40)
  • Brooks -- DA 87.50% (T4), GIR 86.11% (1)
As you can see, it was Brooks's accuracy and not his length that gave him the advantage. And if you look at Sunday's stats in particular, it's easy to see why Brooks won. In GIR, Brooks hit 94.44% while Hideki could only manage 66.67% and Brian 77.78%. And Driving Accuracy was even worse, with Brooks averaging 85.71% while Hideki merely matched him and Brian hit only 57.14% of his fairways.

Brooks Koepka didn't bludgeon Erin Hills into submission as we expected the bombers to do. Rather, he picked and plotted his way around the course -- something the favorites who didn't make the cut failed to do. Such thoughtful execution of his plan deserves at least an equally thoughtful Limerick Summary.

Unfortunately, he'll have to make do with this one!
Wisconsin winds came up at last
And the battle to see who would last
Pushed the boys to extremes…
But then Brooks hit the greens
At a rate that could not be surpassed.
The photo came from the tournament page at PGATOUR.com.

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