The two Americans, the closest thing to household names and/or favorites on a third-round leaderboard full of players looking for their first major, were left to tip their hat to countryman Brooks Koepka, who played close-to-flawless golf and tied the U.S. Open record at 16-under par.
Koepka's winning total of 16-under equals the lowest score to par for a U.S. Open, matching Rory McIlroy's victory at Congressional in 2011 on a par-71 layout. Koepka takes home $2.16 million, the largest single-day earnings in golf. He's also found some great success in majors, qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Open as an amateur, recording a 10th-place finish at the 2014 U.S. Open, and finishing tied for fifth and fourth at the 2015 and 2016 PGA championships.
Fleetwood, who was hoping to become the third English victor since 1924 after Tony Jacklin (1970) and Justin Rose (2013), began the day in a tie for second with Thomas and Brooks Koepka, a shot behind surprise leader Brian Harman. It's the first time since 1998-2000 (Lee Janzen, Payne Stewart and Tiger Woods) that Americans have won it three straight times. That was a big plus for me.
After days of being humbled, Erin Hills turned nasty for the final round as heavy winds pummeled the links-style layout adding an intriguing wrinkle to the year's second major. He experienced his first taste of big-time, under-the-spotlight golf previous year at the Ryder Cup, and played his fifth U.S. Open like it was his 15th.
"If you had told me I was going to shoot 12-under this year at a U.S. Open and not win, I would have taken the bet for sure", he said. "I'll try to beat him the next time".
Matsuyama's 66 was the best score on a windy final day, one better than Koepka. "And then the reception and all of the support I got all week long was unbelievable".More news: One year later: thousands gather to honor Pulse victims
Koepka, who had just one PGA Tour win on his resume coming into the championship, inherits the trophy from good friend and world number one Dustin Johnson. "I think that's a pretty good week".
"That's probably one of the coolest things I've ever experienced and to do it on Father's Day it's pretty neat", Koepka said afterwards. He had made nine birdies and an eagle the day before. Winning on the Japan tour, one win here in the United States. and now the U.S. Open champion.
The rising Japanese superstar then poured in five back-nine birdies to send a scare into what had been shaping as a match play shootout between Koepka and Brian Harman with other overnight contenders flailing.
The buddies who shared a house near Erin Hills also shared the misery after a wind-swept final round in which they never got themselves into the mix.
As Rickie Fowler's tee shot soared into the first fairway Sunday, a man yelled: "Let's go, Rickie!" They were obviously a little bit lower, but it does not matter what golf course you put us on.
"I needed something to go in and see that to build momentum off it, and just carried that over", Koepka said. On a couple of these par-5s I don't even need to hit driver and I can still get there. Johnson was scheduled to join Koepka in playing a Wednesday practice round with Scheffler before this year's U.S. Open, but after his wife, Paulina, had a baby on Monday, Johnson got to Erin Hills late and his practice schedule changed. "And I built a lot of confidence off of that". The season's final major, the PGA Championship, is August 10-13 at Quail Hollow Golf Club.