Dusek: Koepka Played Smart; Phil "A Joke"

From Brooks Koepka going back-to-back to Phil Mickelson thumbing his nose at the USGA, the 2018 U.S. Open won't soon be forgotten

JRSportBrief
June 19, 2018 - 10:37 am

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Golfweek senior writer David Dusek dropped by CBS Sports Radio to discuss an unforgettable 2018 U.S. Open. Yes, from Brooks Koepka going back-to-back to Phil Mickelson thumbing his nose at the USGA, the events of Shinnecock Hills won’t soon be forgotten. 

We’ll start with Koepka, who became the first player to win back-to-back U.S. Opens since Curtis Strange in 1988-89.

“He played smart the whole week,” Dusek said on Ferrall on the Bench. “He putted great. He and Dustin Johnson both have the perfect demeanor to handle the U.S. Open, especially when the USGA botches the course. They take the good with the bad. They just keep plugging along and playing. Koepka should get more respect, and honestly, so should (Patrick) Reed.”

Johnson and Reed finished third and fourth, respectively, after shooting a 283 and 284. Koepka paced the field with a 281.

Koepka has now won two majors and has a top-five finish at the PGA Championship and a top-six finish at the Open Championship on this resume – all since 2016.

Why doesn’t the 28-year-old get more love?

“I think that he’s got a really quiet demeanor,” Dusek said. “I think he really doesn’t care about the spotlight. The spotlight comes to him because of his game, because of his accomplishments. But he doesn’t seek it out. And unfortunately when we look back on this 10 years from now when people are talking about the 2018 U.S. Open, they’re going to talk about two things; they’re going to talk about Phil Mickelson playing hockey on 10 on Saturday, and they’re going to talk about the USGA yet again screwing up the course. When they promised us they weren't going to let this happen, it happened again – and those are going to be the things that we take away. And that’s a pity. Because Koepka deserves a lot more kudos and a lot more buzz than he’s going to get.”

Mickelson, meanwhile, got plenty of buzz for his antics Saturday, intentionally hitting a ball before it had stopped moving.

“There really wasn’t any sense of contrition,” Dusek said. “There wasn’t the, ‘I’m sorry, I just lost my head, I snapped under the pressure, I screwed up, I definitely deserved the penalty – it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, I did it, and it was wrong.’ We never got anything like that. There was no sense that he felt sorry or bad about it.”

Mickelson, with five major championships, is one of the best – and most beloved – players of his generation. But in that moment, he looked like a guy golfing with his college buddies.

“I thought it was a joke,” Dusek said. “It’s the U.S. Open. It’s a guy who literally has got five majors and is in the Hall of Fame. He’s one of the most beloved and respected guys on the PGA Tour, one of the great players of his generation, screwing up and doing something that is unbelievable. It was stunning. Absolutely stunning.”