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The 148th Open Royal Portrush

Putter problems


Frustrated Brooks Koepka laments putting woes that have slowed his Open pursuit

Brooks Koepka is in the mix at another major, but his Claret Jug aspirations have been slowed by an uncooperative putter

By Will Gray

Brooks Koepka is fixed once more on a major championship leaderboard, but the fact that there are names above his is rooted in a single club.

Koepka's major dominance has rolled right along this week at The 148th Open, where he has made just three bogeys across his first 54 holes and closed a third-round 67 with a pair of birdies. But it might be him equipped with a four-shot lead instead of Shane Lowry were it not for three straight days of frustrating results on the greens of Royal Portrush.

"Nobody has hit it better than me this week. I've hit it as good as I could possibly imagine," Koepka said. "I putted the worst in the entire field, if you look at strokes gained. I don't know if they have that. It's been really bad. Very frustrating, disappointed."

Brooks Koepka

Koepka has won four majors in the last 25 months, and he has finished either first or second in each of the last four majors played. That includes a successful title defense in May at the PGA Championship, and it's a streak he's poised to continue at The Open where he will start the final round in a tie for fourth at 9 under, seven shots behind Lowry.

Koepka birdied all three par-5s Saturday in Portrush, but by the time he rolled in his final two putts on Nos. 17 and 18 it did little to dent the magnitude of the final-round deficit he now faces behind the Irishman who carded a brilliant 63.

"I think there's some weeks where you just don't make anything," Koepka said. "They feel like good putts when they come off the blade, but they're burning the edge. That's the only thing I can say. They feel like good putts."

“Nobody has hit it better than me this week. I've hit it better than I could possibly imagine. ” brooks koepka

The one variable that might swing in Koepka's favor is the weather forecast. Tournament officials moved up final-round tee times to avoid the worst of what's expected, but the leaders seemed resigned to the notion that the calm winds and sunny skies they enjoyed during Saturday's final round likely won't be replicated when the Claret Jug is up for grabs.

But for Koepka, a little bit of breeze might be just the thing he needs to bring the leaders within reach in his pursuit of more major hardware - a quest that will be helped immensely with a more cooperative putter.

"I need it being, what, seven back," Koepka said. "Here you need some wind, you need some rain. You need anything that can kind of go your way. And that's got to be an advantage, especially the way I'm striking the ball."