The Brooks Koepka, which was on display at the Tour Championship on Sunday, was not the same type most golf fans expected in the finals of a major tournament.
The four-time main champion and likely PGA Tour Player of the Year, who had a one-off margin with 18 remaining holes and was paired with Rory McIlroy, one of his two closest rivals in the final group, could not play his muscles all over Day. On a cool August day, when the potential was almost exhausted, Koepka barely got out of third gear.
"Just one of those days when you do not feel well," he said. "I mean, I can not bring it every day."
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Koepka scored a disappointing 2 over 72 ̵
Koepka still hit a mile – he had an average of 323 yards on Sunday and 321.1 yards for the tournament – but the accuracy was not there. In the final lap, he hit only five fairways and forced him to play off East Lakes dense Bermuda rough – or worse.
"Just did not put the ball into play, man," said Koepka. "If you do not put it into play, you'll have trouble controlling your distances."
The decisive body blow for Koepka came on the Seventh Hole when he shot his T-shirt into the trees. After a search and rescue crew was dispatched to poke around every pine cone nearby, the ball was declared lost and Koepka had to play his provisional drive of 357 meters. He landed with a double bogey.
This misfortune, along with McIlroy's birdie, overturned the scoreboard. Suddenly, Koepka's one-shot lead turned into a two-shot deficit. It was a three-shot stroke he never recovered from.
Koepka had a brief pause as he made the eighth hole, but lost every shot to catch McIlroy in 12th, 13th and 14th place with three consecutive bogies.
] "Those three putts I missed in a row, 12, 13, 14, somehow blew the air out of everything," he said.
Koepka said the previous Sunday that he had fallen into some "old bad habits" in recent weeks. His playoff placings were not very good – a draw for the 30th at the Northern Trust and a draw for the 24th at the BMW Championship. But between the end of the third round, which was completed on Sunday morning, and the beginning of the last round Koepka was satisfied with his game.
After Koepka took a nap and had a snack for lunch, he set off to warm up. Then he discovered that something was just wrong
"It was one of those days when I did not feel very comfortable myself on the track with the driver," he said. "I just could not – it did not fade away enough, everything was somehow left over and it happens occasionally."
The result was a rare stumbling block for Koepka, who won three times this season – including the PGA Championship – and almost his won the third consecutive title at the US Open.
"This year has been very, very consistent," he said. "It just did not happen this week. I do not think I would beat Rory today, even if I had it. But overall happy with the season. "
Then Koepka took a deep breath and talked about his plans for the next five weeks, a route that does not involve golf and a lot of free time, maybe on a beach.
"Vacation," he said. "I'll have fun."
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