PEBBLE BEACH, CA. -- He wasn't in the promotional video for the tournament he's won each of the last two years. He quietly went about his business during Thursday's first round while the crowds at Pebble Beach focused their attention on Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy and the like.
Attention or not, Brooks Koepka once again is in position to win a U.S. Open.
The four-time major winner has carded back-to-back 2-under-par-69s at Pebble Beach and sits at 4-under-par, three shots back of leader Justin Rose at the end of Friday's morning wave.
While Koepka -- who is looking to become the first golfer to win three straight U.S. Opens since Willie Anderson did so from 1903 to 1905 -- has been a bit of an afterthought early on at Pebble Beach, Rose noticed his name jump up the leaderboard.
"You know, it's a good start for him," Rose said after the second round. "To come here, that's a great couple days. He's got to be feeling like he can build into the weekend and put a good weekend together. And no doubt, with him on the leaderboard, his recent form in majors, absolutely he's a threat. He's the guy probably that his name is standing out more than anyone else's. For sure."
With Pebble playing firmer and faster than in Round 1, Koepka appeared to be stuck in neutral for much of Friday's round. But after picking up a birdie on the Par-5 sixth hole, Koepka walked to the Par-3 seventh and threw a dart to five feet to move within three of Rose.
Through two rounds, Koepka's iron play has made up for his sporadic game off the tee.
After 36 holes, the two-time defending champion has gained 5.78 strokes on the field on approach to the green, the best mark of any player in the field. If his putter gets hot, it could be another romp for golf's terminator.
"I feel great. I'm excited," Koepka said. "I've got a chance. That's all you can ask for. I just need to make a few putts. Sometimes the hole just needs to open up.
"If I can get off to a good start tomorrow, have that feeling where the hole's opening up, it could be a fun round. And I'll be honest with you, I struck it so poorly Monday and Wednesday. I wasn't playing good. And then it's been nice to kind of find some confidence, especially on the golf course."
A confident Koepka could spell doom for the rest of the U.S. Open field.