Sunday 26 May 2019

Koepka holds off Fleetwood to retain his crown

US Open champion Brooks Koepka.
US Open champion Brooks Koepka.

Brooks Koepka became just the seventh man to win back-to-back US Open titles when he closed with a two-under 68 to claim the title by a shot from England's Tommy Fleetwood on one-over par.

With the USGA softening the course after the carnage of Saturday, Fleetwood (27) set a clubhouse target of two-over 282 when he improved by 15 shots on his third round 78 by firing eight birdies in a seven-under 63.

But Koepka (28) - tied for the overnight lead with Tony Finau, Patrick Berger and Dustin Johnson on three-over-par - proved to be a class apart.

Leading by two shots from Fleetwood and by three from Finau as he headed down the 18th, he got a friendly ricochet off the grandstand left of the green, chipped to 13 feet and two-putted to become the first player to successfully defend the US Open since Curtis Strange in 1989.

While Patrick Reed birdied five of his first seven holes to snatch a share of the lead, eventually shooting 68 to finish on four-over, it was Koepka who separated himself from the pack.

Out in two-under to be one clear on Fleetwood, Reed and Dustin Johnson on one-over at the turn, the key to his win was not just the brilliant birdie four he made at the 17th to go two ahead but his 12 footer for bogey at the 11th and consecutive par saves from six and eight feet at the 12th and 14th.

Irish Independent

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