SOUTHAMPTON, NY – JUNE 17: Brooks Koepka of the United States plays his third shot from a bunker on the 11th hole during the final round of the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on June 17, 2018, in Southampton, New York. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
By E. Michael Johnson
Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open not through brute strength, but with a pretty snazzy display of short-game skills over the final nine at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club to become just the seventh player to win back-to-back U.S. Opens (Willie Anderson won three straight), taking the trophy by two shots over Tommy Fleetwood, who shot 63 Sunday.
Koepka also provides a lot of fodder when it comes to his golf equipment. Koepka is using a TaylorMade M3 460 driver with a Mitsubishi Diamana White Board D + 70 shaft. Koepka, who used the M4 model earlier in the year, has both the movable weights in the M3 placed in the rear position which is maxed forgiveness and max launch. Then there’s his irons, so famously talked about after his win last year.
Although not under contract with Mizuno, Koepka plays the company’s JPX 900 Tour irons. The background on the clubs is that Mizuno, knowing that Koepka’s Titleist contract was up (and prior to his Nike deal), made the JPX 900 Tour with Koepka in mind as Mizuno felt he fit the mould of the JPX player. Then, after Nike left the club business, they reached out to Koepka again to gauge his interest in playing the irons and the clubs went in the bag earlier this year after an offseason of testing, a marriage of player and irons several years in the making.
The specs are standard length, one degree upright. The grips are Golf Pride’s mid-size Tour Velvet. Koepka also only practices with odd-numbered clubs so those wear out faster than the others, requiring new sets every so often.
But it was the short clubs that proved the difference for Koepka Sunday at Shinnecock. He uses a trio of Titleist Vokey SM7 wedges and those proved highly serviceable as he got up-and-down from a bunker on No. 11 for a key bogey save and then again for par saves on Nos. 12 and 14. Then came the dagger–one final wedge shot on the par-5 16th that Koepka dropped to within a couple of feet for, effectively, a clinching birdie (although don’t dismiss the classy pitch shot at the last). Koepka’s wedges are a 52-degree F Grind; 56-degree S Grind and a 60-degree M Grind with 12, 10 and 8 degrees of bounce, respectively and a subtle BK stamping on the back. The M Grind on the 60-degree is a particular favourite of the club’s designer, Bob Vokey. The M grind is designed for players that like to rotate the clubface open and shut to manufacture shots around the green.
Then there’s Koepka’s putter. When Nike exited the equipment business in August of 2016, one of the first clubs to change in Brooks Koepka’s bag was a switch back to the Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2 SLT T10 putter he had used to win his first PGA Tour title at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Koepka made the move during the 2016 FedEx Cup playoffs and the putter, which boasts a T10 Terylium insert and has BK stamped on the front toe, helped Koepka tie Rory McIlroy’s U.S. Open scoring record of 16-under par. And now it made all those clutch putts and sank the final putt that allowed him to become a two-time U.S. Open champion.
What Brooks Koepka had in the bag at the U.S. Open
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: TaylorMade M3 460 (Mitsubishi Diamana White Board D + 70), 9.5 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade M2 2017, 16.5 degrees
Irons (3): Nike Vapor Fly Pro; (4-PW): Mizuno JPX Tour 900
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (52, 56, 60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2 SLT 10