Johnson falls back into 4-way tie

Ross Houston
June 23, 2018

Coincidentally, Strange was covering Koepka's twosome for Fox.

If Koepka successfully defends his title, it will be in much different fashion than his record-tying score of 16-under par from a year ago.

World number one Dustin Johnson shot a 70 to finish third on three over.

Brooks Koepka, the fourth-ranked in the world, who looks more like a linebacker than a golfer, won the U.S. Open at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton Sunday afternoon, becoming only the seventh in history to win back-to-back Opens, the last being Curtis Strange, who walked the course with Koepka, in 1988 and '89. There is a fine line between humbling the golfers and humiliating them, and Shinnecock may have crossed that line Saturday. "And to finally do it, it's much more gratifying the second time". This time he was second - his best result at a Major - and played absolutely beautifully.

The victory - and first prize of $2.16 million - is another chapter in the remarkable tale of a young multi-sport athlete in the United States who moved into golf following a serious vehicle crash and then learned his trade traveling around Europe and beyond on the second-tier Challenge Tour.

Koepka's final-round 68 had its share of enormous shots.

At one point in the U.S. Open, Koepka was 7-over following a first-round 75.

But Koepka steadied himself and ground his way home in the traditional style of a U.S. Open victor, making par on six of the last seven holes and birdieing the par-5 15th to give himself some breathing room. Fleetwood is 2 over for the week, tied with Masters champion Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson, who are just starting the back nine.

Still, he would have liked to have that last putt, which just slid by the hole. When the wind picked up in the afternoon, he did as good a job scrambling as anyone on the course.

And few would bet against that happening as soon as next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie, where Fleetwood carded the course record of 63 during last year's Dunhill Links Championship.

He also withstood a furious charge from Englishman Fleetwood, who threw down the gauntlet with eight birdies and one bogey during a seven-under 63. He still had a chance to catch Koepka as he lined up a 62-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th hole, but he wound up three-putting for bogey. He blasted that out to 8 feet and made the putt to keep his lead at one shot.

Brooks Koepka, the 2018 US Open champion. That allowed him to win the tournament by one stroke over Tommy Fleetwood of England. But the exhaustion seemed to have set in, as he bogeyed his final four holes to finish with a 68 on his first round.

In the second round, he shot a 66 to move into contention, but then had a 78 on Saturday.

"I think my game is suited to all the majors", Koepka added.

The USGA pledged to ease off the severe conditions at Shinnecock Hills and, thus far, that has been the case. A par would have bought him more than $120,000. Tony Finau and Daniel Berger played in the final group but Berger was never in the hunt from early in the day, and Finau came up just short, messing up the 18th hole with a drive into the fescue.

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