Koepka holds off Fleetwood for back to back US Opens
Brooks Koepka wrote his name into the history books on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills as he became the first man to claim consecutive US Open crowns since Curtis Strange back in 1989.
The 28-year-old American – who won at Erin Hills last year at an impressive 16-under – showcased his versatility in Long Island this weekend as he ground out victory at one over for the 72 holes.
That was one clear of Englishman Tommy Fleetwood – the Carnoustie record holder – who produced a scintillating final round 63 to level the low round record for this major.
But it was not enough to overhaul Koepka who finished one clear of Fleetwood and also held off his good friend and playing partner on Sunday – the world No.1 Dustin Johnson.
BACK TO BACK
Koepka became just the third man since the second World War to win back to back US Opens and will now fix his attentions on the Claret Jug next month at Carnoustie.
Last year, following his win at Erin Hills, the American finished tied for sixth at Royal Birkdale continuing a run that has seen the last three US Open champions all crack the top ten at The Open.
But not since Tiger Woods back in 2000 has a golfer manager to claim these two majors in the same year.
And considering Koepka has had to overcome a serious wrist injury this season – the Florida native could scarcely believe his luck.
"This is incredible. I don't think I could have dreamed of going back-to-back. It's truly special and I am honoured," said the 28-year-old.
"I always felt like I had a chance. I was never out of it. I just needed to keep grinding. I knew the conditions would ease up a bit and I took advantage of it."
ROCK ON TOMMY
After shooting a 78 on Saturday, Fleetwood came in on Sunday well under the radar.
The 27-year-old – who climbs into the world’s top ten with this runner-up finish – then produced one of the rounds of his life that marks himself out as real contender for the Claret Jug next month at Carnoustie.
The Southport man has now cracked the top four in consecutive US Opens – the first European since Jim Barnes back in 1915-16.
But it was the chance of an historical final round of 62 – never before achieved at the US Open – giving Fleetwood sleepless nights after his nine-foot birdie foot on the 18th failed to drop.
“I knew I had chances for the record but it is something very special to shoot 63 in the final round of the US Open,” he said. “It feels strange to feel a little disappointed not to have shot 62 but it’s been a great day and to equal the record is very special.
“There’s not many people who have done it, so it’s very special and one of the best days I’ve ever had on a golf course.
“The crowds were amazing. They are always great with me and I am very grateful for the support I get over here. When I went on that run on the back nine I was just loving getting everybody going and roaring for me. It was very cool. That walk down 18 will live with me for a long time.”
BEST OF THE REST
Elsewhere, Johnson – one of four co-leaders at the start of the day – was left to rue a poor putting performance as he signed for a 70 and a three-over total for the week.
Masters champion Patrick Reed was in contention after five birdies in his first seven holes but bogeys at nine, 11 and 12 ended that run and his 68 was only good enough for fourth.
Consecutive #USOpen Winners:— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 17, 2018
Willie Anderson (1903, 1904, 1905)
John McDermott (1911, 1912)
Bobby Jones (1929, 1930)
Ralph Guldahl (1937, 1938)
Ben Hogan (1950, 1951)
Curtis Strange (1988, 1989)@BKoepka (2017, 2018)#LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/VEEx9v3EU3
Justin Rose ended up back in a share for tenth while his fellow Englishman Tyrell Hatton was a shot better off and tied for sixth.
But the day belonged to Koepka – making it the last five majors in a row all won by Americans.
And while Champion Golfers of the Year like Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy will all have turned their attentions to Carnoustie after missing the cut here – Koepka has shown he has what it takes when the going gets tough.
For more information about The 147th Open Championship including tickets visit: TheOpen.com/Tickets