Justin Thomas

The 2017 U.S. Open Winners: Brooks Koepka and ‘Millennial Pink’

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Justin Thomas, left, in trousers by Ralph Lauren, and Jonathan Randolph during the U.S. Open on Saturday at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Brooks Koepka may have won his first major golf title on Sunday at the United States Open in Wisconsin, but he wasn’t the only dominant player of the tournament. And I’m not talking about Justin Thomas, who made history the day before by shooting the tournament’s lowest score in relation to par. I’m talking about what Mr. Thomas wore on his record-breaking day.

Specifically: rose-pink pants by Ralph Lauren. Which went well with Brian Harman’s darker pink shirt. Which matched with Tommy Fleetwood’s two-pink-toned Nike shirt and Mr. Koepka’s cotton candy pink Nike shirt. Indeed, the fairway on Saturday was practically a sea of pink against the greens.

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Tommy Fleetwood, left, and Brooks Koepka on Saturday. Mr. Koepka went on to win the tournament on Sunday.

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Tannen Maury/European Pressphoto Agency

Golf has always had its own peculiar fashion sense and color palette, and by Sunday the players had reverted to a rainbow of more traditional shades (Mr. Koepka won the competition in a mint green Nike shirt, while Hideki Matsuyama and Mr. Harman, who tied for second, both wore black and white). But the amount of pink on view on Saturday was impossible to ignore. Especially because this wasn’t the gestural pink of Mother’s Day during the 2017 Players Championship in May, when participants were urged to wear pink in honor of the holiday; this was pink-by-choice, pink as a core element of a competitive wardrobe.

And it suggests that the phenomenon of “millennial pink” — pink as a state of mind, or an idea, as opposed to a specific Pantone shade — has penetrated the sporting world.

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Brian Harman on the Wisconsin course on Saturday.

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Andrew Redington/Getty Images

As to why, well, it can’t have escaped sportswear behemoths Nike, Adidas and Uniqlo that an entire generation of consumers whose hearts and minds and wallets the companies would like to capture has displayed an affinity for this range of rose-colored shades. Nor can they have missed the fact that public figures of all sorts including Gwyneth Paltrow, Harry Styles and Rihanna have suddenly started sporting (yes, I meant to use that word) clothes in said colors. Over the weekend, not only did Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wear a bright pink Alexander McQueen dress to the Trooping the Color parade in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s birthday, but she also dressed her daughter, Princess Charlotte, in a pink party frock.

When golfers and royalty make the same sartorial choices, you know it’s not just a fashion thing. Millennial pink may have started as a runway trend for both men and women — the Gucci designer Alessandro Michele and his muse Jared Leto love a dose of pink — but it has become something else: a shorthand or symbol of this particular moment in time, from the looser definitions of gender and gender stereotypes to the refusal to be boxed in to a traditional set of dress code mores and expectations.

That it has reached critical mass in unexpected places, like the fairway, simply speaks to its use as a means of connecting a person or a discipline that might seem elitist or inaccessible to the values of a larger group. Can you relate?

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