Brooks Koepka wins US Open at Shinnecock Hills after Tommy Fleetwood shoots incredible 63 to finish second. Neil Tappin has the story of a dramatic four days.
Brooks Koepka has defended his US Open title after a dramatic and, at times, farcical four days at Shinnecock Hills. The 28 year-old American began the final round in a four-way tie for the lead but started quickly with birdies on the first two holes.
This was a remarkable victory not only because he was the only man able to defend his title on a golf course that was, at times, artificially tricked up but also because a severe left wrist injury forced him to take a 15-week break from the game at the beginning of 2018. To find his form so quickly was impressive, to contend on a golf course with rough as brutally thick as this one was incredible.
Koepka’s achievement of winning back-to-back US Open’s places him in an elite club with Curtis Strange and Ben Hogan. That he won this one on a traditional old course set up to push the best golfers to the limit of their ability, and patience, makes him a worthy multiple major champion.
Whilst Brooks Koepka won the 2018 US Open, the final round belonged to Tommy Fleetwood. The Englishman, pieced together a truly stunning 63 that equalled the lowest ever score in the history of this Championship. This was a remarkable exhibition of golf, he was in the zone from beginning to end and if it wasn’t for three makeable putts that slipped by on the last three holes, it could have truly historic. Fleetwood may not have won but he is starting to look every inch the major champion in waiting. He will head to Carnoustie for the Open Championship expecting to contend.
And yet, for all the incredible golf being played, the biggest talking point of the week was the set up of the golf course. Make no mistake, Shinnecock Hills is one of the world’s great courses. However, the USGA, as they have a tendency to do at the US Open, were guilty of tricking up the golf course. On day three, there were a handful of unplayable pin placements. With the wind howling and the greens dying, great shots were not rewarded. At times, the USGA toppled the golf course over the edge, pushing it from brutal to impossible. It was a shame to see Shinnecock reduced to farcical test of luck over skill.
From the opening day, Dustin Johnson appeared the most likely winner. The world number one, arriving off the back of victory at the St Jude Classic the previous week, set the early pace. Not only is he one of the biggest hitters in the game but both his wedge play and his putting have transformed him into a consistently world class performer. At the half way stage, he was the only player under par and he led by four. And yet, when it comes to the biggest events, there still appears to be something missing. On moving day, he slipped into reverse with a seven over par 77. There was no sudden meltdown, more a gradual unravelling and despite putting together a solid final round, he was never able to exert any real pressure on Koepka.