Tough U.S. Open course set-up backfires for officials

Dustin Johnson-061418-GETTY-FTR

Dustin Johnson

This past week at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Koepka became just the seventh repeat champion in tournament history and first since Curtis Strange in 1988-89 with a 1-over 281.

Make no mistake, Koepka is the real deal with talents that will make him a force at most other majors. The USGA conceded the course was over the top and pledged to give it more water and slow it down.

The Englishman had a chance to shoot the lowest round in a U.S. Open, but he settled for a 63 that put him in the clubhouse lead and saw him wait out the finishers and come up one shot short.

"Of course it's disappointing, but at the same time - you know, I mean, finish second, tied for second at (the PGA Championship) past year, won Augusta, then I think I'll finish in the top five here", Reed said. DJ led by four strokes through 36 holes and then was 7 over on the weekend to finish two strokes back of Koepka.

2 Koepka's outsized will comes from his family.

Koepka, with a performance and a demeanor reminiscent of Retief Goosen winning at Shinnecock Hills in 2004, began the back nine with three pivotal putts - one for birdie, one for bogey, one for par. Meanwhile Koepka saved pars from the fescue at the 12th and again at the 14th, lashing away long skeins of grass with his clubface. He chopped that up the slope with so much speed that it raced across the green and into the bunker. He said he was glad for the tournament's fabled toughness, for he knew it would take out half the field and highlight his competitive toughness.

Not just because of his distinctive beard and flowing locks but because the 27-year-old from Southport also has the temperament and technique for golf's biggest stage.

"I always felt I was one shy but Brooks kept giving me a little bit of hope until he stabbed me in the stomach a little bit by holing another putt", Fleetwood explained. Putts were rolling some 50 feet by the hole and over the green. The leaders this year are all 3-over par heading into the final round.

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One of four players to share the 54-hole lead, Koepka broke from the pack with three birdies in his first five holes and added a crucial 4-footer for birdie on the 16th to keep his rivals at bay.

By the time Koepka's approach at 18 hit a grandstand and bounced off a closing bogey was academic.

"He's going to win another one", Koepka said.

While many don't care for the USGA and their setups, I enjoy them. "Hell, I came close, and he'd beat me like a yard dog". But when you think of the things that happened in the past, you have to err on the side of caution.

But on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, Koepka showed he has the game to handle any test, prevailing by a stroke on a course with punishing rough and firm greens. I miss competing. I've got to be competing at something.

Koepka became the first man to turn that impressive trick in almost three decades by handling a Shinnecock Hills course that varied from beastly to benign.

Aaron Baddeley finished as leading Australian, posting a one-under 69 to earn a 12-over total, but finished 11 shots back of victor Brooks Koepka. You play by the rules, not play with them. Fitting, really, that it was a par at a U.S. Open in which pars were so tough to get. "He was busy grinding his tail off and I was busy grinding mine. It's so much fun to watch him", she said during the August 2017 interview. That was three years ago at the Phoenix Open.

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