Brooks Koepka battled through two tough afternoons at Shinnecock Hills over the weekend to become the first repeat winner at the U.S. Open since Curtis Strange in 1988-89 and just the second since Ben Hogan in 1950-51.
Everything about 2018’s event from the scoring perspective was the inverse of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills. By winning on both courses, which forced golfers to play quite differently, Koepka has cemented his status as one of the best golfers in the world when he’s healthy.
Koepka not only had to battle 54-hole co-leader and playing partner Dustin Johnson, he had to keep his eye on a leaderboard that saw Masters champion Patrick Reed make a run and Tommy Fleetwood shoot the sixth 63 in U.S. Open history earlier in the day. Fleetwood entered the clubhouse at 2-over par, and after both Koepka and Johnson bogeyed the 11th hole, Fleetwood’s score looked strong enough to put him in contention for a playoff.
But when Koepka knocked his approach shot snug on 16 to push the lead to even par with two holes to play, there was no question that he was going clear every hurdle Shinnecock Hills provided this week.
The initial challenge was his own doing, a 75 on Thursday with two bogeys and two double-bogeys. He rallied to a 66 on Friday, and as the course and conditions took hold of this tournament on Saturday afternoon, Koepka was impacted just like the rest of the field. He carded three bogeys in his final seven holes of the day to finish with a 72, but those four pars he had to grind out in the same stretch left him in tie for first place and in the mix to win on Sunday.
Round 4 was all about execution. Koepka was all over the pins early in the round, with birdies on three of the first five holes. When the wind picked up in the afternoon, he did as good a job scrambling as anyone on the course. He was lights out on the greens, burying tough putts from 5-10 feet when his playing partner couldn’t buy a birdie putt.
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SOURCE: Kyle Porter & Chip Patterson