Forget Moving Day, this was Judgment Day and golf's Terminator has caught up. Brooks Koepka will be the man to beat as the curtain comes down at Pebble Beach
Like golf’s very own Terminator – a model Tee-1000 if you will – Brooks Koepka just will not quit.
He’s hanging on to the back of the car at this US Open, inching his way forward with a relentless purpose that should frighten the life out of the only two players above him on the leaderboard – Gary Woodland and Justin Rose – when it comes to Judgment Day.
It’s not gone exactly as planned for the four-time major champion at Pebble Beach.
He was thinning his strikes coming into the week, avoided hitting balls on a range he claimed was firmer than the golf course, and couldn’t buy a putt for the best part of a day and a half.
And yet he’s still tied for 3rd, after a pair of 69s that was followed on Saturday with an efficient 68.
If there was one strike that summed up his desire it was a 3-wood from tight behind the tree in the middle of the 18th fairway.
He had to cut it round the trunk, putting his tournament on the line while doing so, but sent it out at the TV tower behind the grandstand before it came to rest in rough short of the green.
It’s why, even though Koepka’s four behind Woodland, there’s no way you can discount him becoming the first player for 115 years to win the US Open three times in a row.
“It was difficult,” he almost deadpanned afterwards when asked about what will surely become “that shot” if he lifts the trophy yet again.
“The ball above your feet, you’ve got to cut it. The Pacific is right there on the left, you’re staring at it.
“I really couldn’t see anything even from where I was standing over the golf ball. I could see the ocean there on the left. I don’t think I could have reached the green, but the layup was difficult enough.”
Koepka manufactured a par and ensured he came through his round without a bogey by imposing his will on this golf course.
On a moving day where some of the fancied contenders basically stood still, he continued to operate with an efficiency that matches the unanimated expression he largely shows to the world.
In those feisty press conferences, that mask can slip – where flashes of rage flit across the face at another perceived slight or another person that has wronged him.
But in the arena – in his arena – he is passionless, ruthless, and seemingly without mercy.
Three birdies in five holes, from the 6th to the 10th, were at the heart of his round and the latter was a clear signal of intent.
He struck a 3-wood 371 yards down the hill at this most picturesque of holes. Let’s repeat: a 3-wood nearly 400 yards. Can you imagine that?
Five holes later, when a dropped shot seemed a certainty after he bladed a chip right over the green like any 18-handicapper, he dropped in a curling bomb from off the fringe and barely broke into a grin.
This guy doesn’t do big shows of emotion. He does results.
“I’m happy being in this position,” he added. “It feels like almost every major right now. I’ve won four and finished 2nd at Augusta.
“I felt like I’ve put myself in good chances where I’m very comfortable around that. I don’t need to go out and chase. I don’t need to do much. Just kind of let it come to you.”
That’s why he’s still the player every one else in the field should fear tomorrow – no matter how big a cushion they have got.
Because he will not stop until he has either won or the holes have run out. He won’t fold under the pressure. He’ll keep on coming.
Willie Anderson, between 1903 and 1905, was the last person to achieve what Koepka has a real chance of matching on Sunday.
Would any of you seriously bet against him? The hunt for the three-peat is well and truly still alive.