ERIN, Wis. — The wind was up Sunday. So were the scores after a record-low Saturday. That merely added to the drama, though, as a crowded field sorted itself out in a taut U.S. Open finish.
Showing steady nerves, long hitting and clutch putting, Brooks Koepka pulled away from the pack by posting consecutive birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th holes on his way to a 5-under-par 67. He finished at 16 under, good for his first major victory in the first Open at Erin Hills.
‘‘It’s unbelievable,’’ Koepka said. ‘‘I don’t even know what to say. It’s definitely a special moment.’’
Koepka’s 16-under total tied for the lowest finish in an Open with Rory McIlroy, who shot 16 under at Congressional in 2011.
‘‘I should have made that up-and-down on 18,’’ a grinning Koepka, 27, said. ‘‘That’s awesome. Really cool [to tie McIlroy]. And to do it on Father’s Day, it’s pretty neat. I didn’t get my dad a card, so this works.’’
Third-round leader Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama finished tied for second, four shots back.
‘‘It bites a little bit right now,’’ said Harman, who closed with an even-par 72. ‘‘I gave it my best, but Brooks played so well. He went out and won the tournament on the back nine.’’
Matsuyama put some heat on Koepka, posting a 6-under 66 that left him 12 under in the clubhouse. At that point, Koepka was 13 under with five holes left.
Koepka answered that challenge, posting his three consecutive birdies after sinking a tough par-saving putt on the 13th.
‘‘To be honest, the par save on 13 built some confidence,’’ Koepka said. ‘‘I knew where I stood. I was just trying to get as low as I could. It was important to stay focused and keep the pedal down.’’
Matsuyama, the No. 4 player in the world rankings, was the highest-ranked player standing after the three top players failed to make the cut for the first time since the rankings debuted in 1986.
So this first Open at Erin Hills, which opened in 2006, belonged to newcomers. Koepka, who played in the 2011 U.S. Amateur at the course, was — and is — an Erin Hills fan.
‘‘It was bombs away; I loved it,’’ he said of the inviting fairways. ‘‘A couple of these par-fives, I don’t even need to hit driver. I can still get there.’’
Koepka became the seventh first-time major winner in a row. The top finishing major winner at Erin Hills was Sergio Garcia, who ended up tied for 21st.
It was a frustrating day for Justin Thomas, who had shot an Open-record 9-under 63 on Saturday. Thomas bogeyed three of his first five holes en route to a 3-over 75 and a tie for ninth.
After finishing in a disappointing tie for 35th at 1 over, Jordan Spieth cast his vote for another Open at Erin Hills, the only venue in the Central time zone between 2003 and at least 2027, the next available date.
‘‘It’s an awesome golf course,’’ Spieth said. ‘‘That’s been the consensus from everybody. I’d like to see another one here, for sure.’’
Wisconsin native Steve Stricker, who played his way into the Open at a qualifier, also advocated for a return trip to Erin Hills.
‘‘I hope it does,’’ he said. ‘‘If it comes back here, I’d like to see the fescue a little bit thinner and the fairways a little bit narrower, so it’s not a full-shot penalty for hitting it in the fescue. But it would be great for them to come back here.’’
Not surprisingly, Koepka also wants to see another Open at Erin Hills.
‘‘Absolutely,’’ he said with a laugh. ‘‘I’d be a big fan of that.’’
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