Brooks Koepka wins U.S. Open for second consectuvie year
25 June, 2018, 01:41 | Author: Ellis Copeland
The 27-year-old's score still matched the lowest in US Open history and set a testing clubhouse target on two over par, with Koepka the only player able to beat it - by a single shot - thanks to a nerveless 68. The world No. 9 from Florida is plainly back to his best after he broke down with a wrist injury that ruined his 2017 beyond his victory in the US Open at Erin Hills. Reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed made an early run with a first-nine 31, but came home in 37 to finish fourth at 284.
The powerful 28-year-old has always looked like a potential world-beater and, by becoming the first man to win successive US Opens for nearly 30 years, he has gone up another level.
"To be honest with you, probably couldn't have dreamed of it in my wildest dreams".
"I'm sure there's nobody happier for me than Dustin", Koepka said.
The pressure the third time is even more extreme, said the only person alive who would know.
Berger, who fired a 66 on Saturday, will tee off in the final pairing with Tony Finau at 2:24 p.m. ET.
But even Fleetwood (282) left Shinnecock with regrets, missing an 8-foot birdie putt on 18 that would have given him a 62 and tied him with Koepka for the lead.
Fleetwood, who finished fourth behind Koepka at Erin Hills past year, began the day six shots off the lead following a 78 on Saturday but highlighted the better conditions with birdies on the second, third, sixth and seventh. Johnny Miller famously posted that score 45 years ago at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club to complete a six-stroke rally for the title.
"It hasn't sunk in yet", said Koepka, who had battled a partially torn wrist tendon that sidelined him almost four months since his major breakthrough past year. "Seven under is incredible", Koepka said.
It was only the pin positions that needed to be fixed, so I felt they overreacted a little by putting so much water on the greens and putting the pins in generous flat areas. "He kept it together, and he's a world player". But seven holes into Sunday, the chase was on. The South African won at Shinnecock in 2004, then led by three shots at Pinehurst the next year. Nowhere was that more evident than on the par-3 11th. Converting a 13-footer for bogey portended a stretch of clutch putts.
He seized control with a wedge to 3½ feet for birdie on the par-5 16th for a two-shot lead, and he never flinched until it no longer mattered. Koepka stuffed his wedge approach from 122 yards to 4 feet, which he converted for a two-stroke lead.
"It was a pretty cool moment to have Curtis there", Koepka said. "I enjoy being pushed to the limit".
"It really, really was testing this week, to be honest with you", the victor told Newsday's Greg Logan afterward. "We are confident we can slow the golf course down going into Sunday".
"I knew I was kind of [feeling good] in it teeing off, but you still have to get off to that good start", Fleetwood said on the Fox broadcast (h/t Adam Silverstein of CBSSports.com).
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