PINEHURST, N.C. -- Only when he realized where he was going did Brooks Koepka look back at where he had been.
A year ago this week, Koepka was in Scotland to prepare for a Challenge Tour event and his sixth straight week on the road. Now he's going to the Masters for the first time and earned a return trip to the U.S. Open. He locked up a PGA Tour card.
"It just keeps getting better and better," he said Tuesday.
Koepka was coming up the 18th fairway Sunday at Pinehurst No. 2 when he looked at the leaderboard and mentioned to his caddie, Ricky Elliott, that it would be cool to birdie the final hole and tie for fifth. He hit a 52-degree wedge to 6 feet and made birdie -- and a late bogey by Henrik Stenson put him in a tie for fourth.
Only when he was in the locker room did he find out the top four and ties from the U.S. Open are invited to Augusta National.
"It was pretty sweet, to say the least," he said. "Someone said to me, `How's it feel to be in the Masters?'And I was like, `Oh, that's funny.' It's awesome, a dream come true. I went there a long time ago and always told my dad that I was going to go back and play but I would never go back and watch. It's a special place."
Koepka also sewed up his PGA Tour card by earning 115 FedEx Cup points. That makes him the equivalent of No. 82 in the FedEx Cup and makes him a lock to get his PGA Tour card.
He reached a point of getting unlimited exemptions in April, but exemptions are hard to find this year. Koepka figured he would have at least three more starts to nail down his card, but to achieve it at the U.S. Open was special because his family was at Pinehurst and he could share the big moment.
Not many players have earned their European Tour and PGA Tour cards in less than a year.
Koepka's win in Scotland last year was his third on the Challenge Tour, giving him a European Tour card.
Next up is a return to Europe. His plan is to play the French Open and Scottish Open and try to get one of three spots available to the top finishers not already exempt. As for next year?
"I'll keep both cards," he said, "and do what the best players in the world do."