When Hideki Matsuyama posted a final-round score of 66 at Erin Hills on Sunday to take the US Open clubhouse lead on 12 under par, the target was set for Brooks Koepka.
The 27-year-old American knew what he needed to do to win his first Major and he more than stood up to the pressure, sinking three straight birdies from the 14th hole to finish a record-equalling 16 under.
New world No10 Koepka proved a great champion, rarely playing a bad shot all week and illustrating again just how much strength in depth golf currently enjoys.
There may be no single dominant player – Koepka is the seventh consecutive first-time Major winner – but it is not down to a lack of quality. Instead, the chasing pack have raised the bar and, encouraged by other maiden Major winners, they are not scared.
This trend is also casting the Tiger Woods era in an even more exceptional light. At the time I think it was difficult to fully appreciate his run of 14 Major titles in 12 years, but nobody has come close to that level of dominance since and we may never see its like again in our lifetimes.
Is it better for the game to have a megastar like Tiger or this hugely competitive array of excellent players? I think I preferred watching the Woods era but it is also fantastic to see people win their first Majors, as we did at the weekend.
Koepka has an interesting background, having taken the unusual step for a US player of beginning his professional career on this side of the Atlantic, first on the Challenge Tour and then the European Tour.
That experience is a great asset, and I’m sure he would have drawn on his knowledge of playing British links courses when the wind picked up in Wisconsin on Sunday.
He now has Major-winning pedigree in his armoury too, and he is certainly capable of going on to win more.
Matsuyama edging closer
Matsuyama, who finished four shots behind in a tie for second, was also magnificent and must be close to being the best player out there yet to win one of the big four prizes.
Who knows what might have happened but for his first round of 74? Pressure can do funny things, and with the pressure off Matsuyama flourished on Friday.
He was back in the spotlight on Sunday, though, and he responded with a six-under-par round. That bodes well.
Open beckons for in-form Fleetwood
Full marks to Brian Harman, who shared second, and even more so to England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who was fantastic in fourth place.
Fleetwood has come a long way in the last few months, having been ranked 188th as recently as September, and he will have gleaned a lot from his best Major performance yet.
He has shown that his recent form is no fluke and he is swinging better than ever. Let’s see what he can do next month when the Open is held at Royal Birkdale in his native Southport.