Brooks Koepka stepped up to his approach on No. 16 on Sunday afternoon at the U.S. Open. At +1, he was a single stroke ahead of Tommy Fleetwood, who’d been in the Shinnecock Hills clubhouse for two hours after posting a record-tying 63 earlier in the day. Koepka had no margin for error, and he didn’t need any. His 122-yard approach settled just three feet from the pin, giving him a smooth shot at a birdie.
Koepka drained it, took a two-shot lead on Fleetwood, and about a half-hour later, a second straight U.S. Open trophy was his.
Koepka’s touch tops DJ’s
Playing with world no. 1 and best friend Dustin Johnson, Koepka played a steady, often brilliant round. Nowhere was that more evident than on the par-3 11th. Koepka fired his tee shot into the thick fescue and needed to drain a terrifying 12-foot putt to salvage a bogey. Meanwhile, Johnson missed a four-footer for par, unable to close the gap. Koepka and Johnson had begun the day at +3, holding a share of the lead with Tony Finau and Daniel Berger. But only Koepka went low, and none of the other three co-leaders could mount a serious challenge.
Stats told the story. For the tournament, Koepka ranked first in driving, second in strokes gained from putting, and tied for third for greens in regulation. After an opening-round 75, Koepka carded a 66 on Friday and a 72 on a carnage-ridden Saturday to set himself up for Sunday’s run. He finished Sunday with a two-under round to finish one over par for the entire tournament.
Koepka joins U.S. Open legends
Koepka now joins Willie Anderson, John McDermott, Bobby Jones, Ralph Guhldal, Ben Hogan, and Curtis Strange as back-to-back winners of the U.S. Open. Strange, the last player to record the feat, did so in 1988 and 1989. Anderson won a record three in a row from 1903-1905, so Koepka has that to shoot for at Pebble Beach in 2019.
Tommy Fleetwood flirts with immortality
Fleetwood unleashed the round of the week – indeed, the round of his life – on Sunday afternoon, carding a record-tying 63 to leap all the way up to +2. He missed an eight-foot putt on the 18th hole that would have given him sole possession of the U.S. Open record; instead, he’ll share it with five others. Fleetwood finished out at 3:48 Eastern Time, well before the leaders had even made the turn, and had hours to wait to see if he’d be playing on. (And, as it turned out, that missed putt cost him a chance at a playoff with Koepka, too.)
Patrick Reed sprints, then stumbles
For a brief moment, it appeared reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed might haul his “Captain America” nickname out of the Ryder Cup and into a major. Reed started the day with five birdies in the first seven holes, claiming a share of the lead. But he stumbled on the back stretch, bogeying 11 and 12 and falling as far as four strokes off the lead. He couldn’t quite close in the final holes, missing too many long birdies, and finished at +4 for the week.
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