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Jun 17, 2018 10:58 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Sunshine And High Drama At The U.S. Open Sunday

Brooks Koepka is the winner of the 118th U.S Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.   DANA SHAW
Jun 18, 2018 6:42 AM

UPDATE: 7:55 p.m.

Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open Champion after finishing the final round on Sunday at 1-over par at Shinnecock Hills, with a four-day total of 281. He is just the third player since 1950 to win consecutive Opens, joining by Curtis Strange (1988-89) and Ben Hogan (1950-51). Koepka prevailed by one stroke over England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who posted a 63, one shot off the course record for pros. Fleetwood made eight birdies on the day, but a short birdie putt he missed on the final hole proved costly.

While much of the talk over the past four days was about the difficulty of the course conditions, that didn’t seem to bother Koepka, 28, who proved he is well-equipped for the physical and mental grind. After a 5-over par 75 in windy conditions on Thursday, he made an 11-stroke improvement on Friday finishing with a 4-under 66, his best round of the tournament. Koepka kept himself in contention on Saturday with a 72 on a day that saw blistering fast greens and several tough pin placements, which led to some grumbling from players who shot well over par. With a more benign set-up on Sunday, Koepka finished with a 2-under 68.

Koepka described winning back-to-back Opens as “incredible.”

“To be honest with you, I probably couldn’t have dreamed of it in my wildest dreams,” he said. “I’m at a loss for words right now, but it’s really incredible. I couldn’t be happier.”

Koepka was playing alongside good friend Dustin Johnson, who shot even par on Sunday to place third overall. Johnson had a commanding lead going into the weekend, the only player under par at minus 4. But a 77 on Saturday set him back, and he ultimately settled for third. Reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed—who worked with Shinnecock club caddy Tim Fox for several days leading up to the Open—shot a 2-under 68 to finish fourth.

Koepka said being paired with his good friend in Johnson was nice, but that it was strictly business when they were out on the course.

“We didn’t really speak too much,” Koepka said. “We’re extremely close. I love the guy to death. It would have been fun to duel it out with him coming down the end, having to make some putts. It was a fun round. I did enjoy it.”

Koepka, who missed this year’s Masters with a wrist injury, said he enjoys “being pushed to the limit.”

“The U.S. Open just takes so much discipline,” he said. “You have got to be a great putter and just kind of let things roll off your back. That is something we do pretty well. We were able to bounce back very well, considering, whether it be a bogey, a double and just kind of move on. It’s a fun week. I enjoy the test.

“Sometimes you feel like you are about to break mentally, but that’s what I enjoy,” he added. “I enjoy playing about the toughest in golf you are going to play.”

Fleetwood proved more up to that test than anyone on Sunday, and was certainly the hottest player in the field, with eight birdies on the day.

“It’s been a great day. It’s easy to look back at it and think I was one shy, and you can be disappointed,” he said. “But there’s so many positives to look at and so much that you can take from it and learn from it.”

Fleetwood missed a nine-foot putt on 18 to finish the day. Had he made it, both Fleetwood and Koepka could have been playing in a play-off. But Fleetwood said he was more upset that he missed the putt to finish the round at 62, which would have been a new tournament record for a round.

“Obviously, that’s the putt that will play on your mind because that was the last shot you hit and that was your chance,” he said. “But I missed some putts in the week. I made some putts. I think everybody did. And your score is your score. And for me, just getting that close to winning a major again, I think that is the ultimate thing I’ll take from it.

UPDATE: 4:05 p.m.

Tommy Fleetwood just put himself in U.S. Open history books.

The 27-year-old Englishman who just joined the PGA Tour this year finished his final round on Sunday with a 63. Only five others in U.S. Open history have finished a round with a low of that score, including Justin Thomas just last year at Erin Hills. Vijay Singh (2003, Olympia Fields), Jack Nicklaus (1980, Baltusrol), Tom Weiskopf (1980, Baltusrol) and Johnny Miller (1973, Oakmont) also completed the fete. Nicklaus and Miller, along with Johnson, eventually won their respective tournaments. Fleetwood, who birdied eight holes today, did not put himself in the lead with the 7-under score today but he has put himself in contention, sitting tied in second with Patrick Reed, who has had a good day himself, currently at 4-under for the day. Brooks Koepka, last year’s champion, holds a one-shot lead at the moment at 1-over.

ORIGINAL STORY

Fans are still debating whether Phil Mickelson should have been disqualified, or withdrawn, from the 118th U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills after his bizarre violation of rules, etiquette and sportsmanship during a round that spawned a chorus of complaints from players about the USGA’s penalizing set up of the course.

Mickelson did not withdraw, as many people think he should have, and is playing superbly through the first half of his final round. And, of course, he’s still the fan favorite.

“They couldn’t disqualify him, he’s the one everyone wants to see, this is ratings gold,” said Charlie Edmundsen of Short Hills, NJ on Sunday morning. “I don’t think he should have withdrawn. He was making a point. A lot of guys were angry.”

Sunshine and light winds are bathing the course again today making for a gorgeous day of viewing.

Traffic issues that had plagued the early week have been vastly improved without the regular weekday rush-hour traffic added to the tournament traffic.

There are still tickets to the tournament available at the front gate and on StubHub.com for as little as $100.

Shuttles are running from the Hampton Classic fairgrounds in Bridgehampton, Southampton Village and Gabreski Airport in Westhampton.

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Big thanks to the USGA and Shinnecock Hills for a great week. It was an extremely well-organized event and was thoroughly enjoyable. Thank you for the memories!
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Jun 18, 18 9:51 AM
1 member liked this comment