PEBBLE BEACH -- It was like a scene from an old horror movie. The giant beast rises from the water, prepared to destroy everything in his path. Nothing can stop it.
Such was the scene at Pebble Beach on Sunday. With the late tee times going off, golf's Godzilla emerged on the first tee clad in a blue Nike pullover, a wad of chewing tobacco packed in his lip.
There Brooks Koepka stood, ready to add Pebble Beach to a list of courses he's eviscerated en route to a major championship. A list that includes Shinnecock Hills, Bethpage Black, Bellerive and Erin Hills.
Unfazed by the pressure of being four shots back on a U.S. Open Sunday. Unbothered by the enormity of the task of winning three straight U.S. Opens. Koepka stuck his tee in the ground on the first tee, and his unstoppable rampage began.
He birdied No.1. Then, after losing his tee shot into the hospitality area on No. 2, it appeared Godzilla had met a roadblock.
Once again, Koepka didn't flinch.
His recovery shot found the deep rough on the lip of the bunker that splits the second hole. But Koepka muscled his third shot out of the spinach to within five feet of the hole. A ho-hum par.
The beast marched on.
Birdies at three, four and five brought Koepka to 11-under for the tournament, on the precipice of overtaking leader Gary Woodland. History was within his grasp.
But eventually, someone discovers a way to slay the beast. Sometimes he stops himself.
After paring six and seven, Koepka bogeyed No. 8. Godzilla can bleed.
Meanwhile, Woodland kept grinding out pars, never giving Koepka an opening. The four-time major winner would have to make a move on the back nine in order to complete his destruction of another U.S. Open field.
After a birdie at 11, Koepka bogeyed 12 but remained only one shot back of Woodland.
Koepka struck the ball beautifully all week, but he couldn't get the putts to fall. As he parred his way through the back nine, Godzilla started to stumble, and on 18, when his putt to get to 11-under darted in front of the hole, he fell back into the Pacific Ocean.
His quest for three straight U.S. Opens would come up three strokes shy of Woodland, who birdied 18 to finish at 13 under. Koepka became the first golfer in history to shoot four rounds in the 60s in a U.S. Open and not take home the trophy.
"It doesn't sting," Koepka said after the round. "I played great. Nothing I could do. I gave it my all. I give it my all every time and sometimes, like this week -- it happened at Augusta -- it's not meant to be. I played great. I hit every shot that I wanted to. And sometimes no matter how good your good is it isn't there."
Koepka has become the big-game hunter over the past two years. Arriving at major championships with an icy demeanor and the lone goal of eviscerating the field with his brute strength and unwavering will.
Sometimes the monster gets beat. Woodland was triumphant Sunday, doing what few have been able to do recently and only he has been able to do in the last three U.S. Opens: beat Brooks.
The U.S. Open leaves Pebble Beach with Koepka's name half carved into the lone tree in the 18th fairway. He was a few rolls of his putter from U.S. Open history.
From achieving it at this iconic venue, where the Pacific Ocean kisses the rocks and time melts away as quickly as the water from the shoreline of Stillwater Cove.
"Yeah, it's cool. It's an awesome theater," Koepka said of Pebble Beach. "Anytime that you can play in a place that's as beautiful as this, it's pretty neat. You look out to the left and you've got the Pacific and you see all the fans on the right, it's a unique place. All the history behind it and to play a major championship here is quite special. Even you play the AT&T here it's a cool feeling. And it's one I can't wait to get back to."
Gary Woodland won the day.
But Brooks Koepka, like Godzilla, is bound to return.