Ryder Cup gave Brooks Koepka confidence to withstand pressure

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American Brooks Koepka captured his first major championship at the U.S. Open after finishing 16 under for the tournament.
USA TODAY Sports

ERIN, Wis. — The back-to-back birdies to start the round were big. So, too, the shot out of the bunker on 14. And that birdie putt on 15 that kept everyone at bay? The definition of clutch.

Truth is, though, Brooks Koepka won his first major back in October.

If not for the crushing pressure of the Ryder Cup, Koepka wouldn’t be the new U.S. Open champion. Keeping your composure — and cushion of a lead — down the stretch will barely cause you to break a sweat after you’ve survived three days’ worth of jangling nerves and stomach in a constant state of free fall.

“The Ryder Cup was the first real taste of true pressure I think I’ve ever felt,” he said after his 4-stroke victory Sunday afternoon at Erin Hills. “And to be honest with you, this week I don’t think I ever got nervous, not at one point. I just stayed in the moment.”

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